Departmental Guidelines for Writing a Term Paper

A paper normally consists of three parts: the preliminaries, the text, and the reference material. The preliminaries always include a title page. While the exact form of the title page may vary, it must obviously include your name, the name of the course (and section number if applicable) for which the paper was prepared, and the date. 

 Your major effort will center on the text of the paper which, itself, contains three parts: an introduction, the main discussion, and your conclusions. Of the three, students seem most likely to forget about the first, the introduction. 

The text always begins with an introduction which clearly states the subject of the paper. This means telling your reader about what you are going to write and why. What do you hope to describe or analyze? What do you intend to prove or disprove? What questions will you try to answer or what hypotheses will be tested? In most cases, the introduction is simply contained in the first paragraph or two of the paper without a formal heading. Your professor will appreciate its presence, with or without formal headings. 

The introduction is then followed by the main text of the paper in which you present in some ordered form, your research, interpretations, criticisms, or reactions. The final part of the paper usually offers some form of conclusion related to points developed in the preceding pages. Apart from explicit content, coherence, clarity and orderly development of a theme or argument will add significantly to the value of any paper. 

Term Papers & Assignments 

Papers should always be TYPED, DOUBLE-SPACED, have STANDARD MARGINS (1 inch or 2.54 cm) and be in 12-POINT TYPE

Your papermust have: 

  • A title page (blindly numbered as 1) 

  • Body of the text (introduction, argument, conclusion) with some sort of referencing 

  • A reference list or bibliography (start a new page). 

If an electronic version is requested, it should be in a standard word-processing format, preferably MS Word, WordPerfect or PDF.  Depending on your professor's preference, the electronic version should be sent as an e-mail attachment. Your individual professor will tell you what style s/he would prefer. 

Two styles are acceptable by the Department of Political Science: 
1. "In-text" or embedded citation style, with a list of references cited following the text; 
2. Footnotes and/or endnotes with the references cited at the bottom of individual pages (footnotes) or prior to your mandatory reference list (endnotes). 

Before beginning your assignment, check your course outline and with your professor! 

 Acquaint yourself with the CPSA-ACSP's language rules. 


Footnotes and Endnotes 

Notes, whether footnotes or endnotes, are employed in most political science papers as a means of 

  • citing the source of statements quoted or closely paraphrased in the text. 

  • to make additional comments about some point of the text. 

  • to acknowledge someone else for an idea or argument.  

Notes are numbered consecutively with the number appearing at the end of the passage in question and immediately before the note itself, superscripted. For convenience, notes may appear at the end of the paper (endnotes) rather than at the bottom of the page (footnotes). There are numerous types of notes, but they are always typed in single space. 

Click here for information and examples on footnotes/endnotes.  

Embedded and In-Text Citations 

Your professor may request you use embedded, in-text (parenthetical or author-date) citations, instead of notes. And just like footnotes and endnotes, in-text citations are designed (1) to cite the source of statements quoted or closely paraphrased in the text, (2) to make additional comments about some point of the text, or (3) to acknowledge someone else for an idea or argument. 

Click here for information on embedded or in-text citations. 

Bibliography and Reference Pages 

In addition to notes or in-text citations, the other major referencing component consists of the bibliography or reference page. This page lists the sources consulted in the preparation of the paper. The sources included in the bibliography are listed alphabetically, with the author's surname first, followed by forenames or initials. 

please click here for information on a bibliography. 


For regulations on Plagiarism, Cheating and Academic dishonesty, view the most recent Academic Calendar here.

Useful References: 

American Psychological Association. Publication Manual, 6th edition. American Psychological Association: Washington, 2001. 
Scott, Gregory M. & Stephen M. Garrison. The Political Science Student Writer's Manual. Englewood: Prentice Hall, 1995. 
Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook. Bedford: St. Martin's Press, 2002. 
Harnack, Andrew & Eugene Kleppinger. Online: A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. 
Schmidt, Diane E. Expository Writing in Political Science: A Practical Guide. Harper Collins College Publishers, 1993. 



These brief comments about paper format, reference material and plagiarism are minimal comments on paper writing. Please check your course syllabus for referencing requirements - individual professors may suggest their own refinements or additional requirements.