How to Write a Seminar Paper
Masters and PhD candidates find it critical to learn how to write a seminar paper because they are required to do one during their final year. As scientific texts, seminar papers are subject to certain requirements regarding format and content. In this blog post, attention is paid to best practices in writing seminar papers to help candidates of masters and PhD go through the process seamlessly.
Structure of a seminar paper
A seminar paper takes the format of a thesis or project, but does not contain all the sections of a complete thesis/project. However, there are five elements that you need to put in mind when you want to write a seminar paper. These are used to ensure completeness and usefulness of the work for the purpose it is intended for. You are required to include the following six sections when writing a seminar paper.
- Title page
This is the very first page that indicates the title of the seminar paper you are writing, your personal details such as name and admission number, supervisor name and date of submission.
2. Table of Contents
You are required to insert the table of contents to help a reader trace certain sections with immediacy when there is need. Due to the length of this paper, insert an automatic table of contents to allow you update instantly when there is need. You may also include list of figures, tables and abbreviations.
3. Chapter One: Introduction
The introduction part focuses on providing the background of the research concepts. For example, if you are writing a seminar paper about the effect of COVID-19 on international relations, your background of the seminar paper should extensively explore the nature of international relations in the past and the current before analyzing the nature of COVID-19 based on the information available. This should be a relatively concise in terms of number of words compared to the one of the research proposal or thesis/project.
After presenting the background, the next sub-section should reveal the motivation of carrying out the research. This includes an examination of the reasons why the topic is relevant at this point in time. For example, COVID-19 is a current issue and it is sweeping across the world. As it seems, only a few countries will survive its implications. Given that almost all countries of the world are affected, a researcher could be interested in exploring if it will cause any significant effect on international relations.
The third important element of the introduction is a concise presentation of the problem. The research problem is usually based on the simple question of ‘who is complaining?’. Due to this, the dependent variable gives the problem of the study. For our exampled topic above, the research problem will be based on the international relations, which is our dependent variable. In this case, the writer of the seminar paper will need to explore the expected nature of international relations, the actual state of affairs in terms of international, the cause of differences between the expected and the actual state of international relations and how the seminar paper research intends to address the difference.
The purpose of the seminar paper is also explained in this section. Before you decide to write a seminar paper, there is need to know the aims and objectives: the reason why you are writing it. The purpose of the seminar paper emanates from the research problem. You can state it in terms of research objectives or questions. A research question for a seminar paper should be stated in a concise form.
4. Chapter Two: Main Section
This section is made up of two chapters. These are:
- The theoretical part
- The practical part
The theoretical part presents the theoretical foundations underlying the variables of the study. The basic definition of a theory is that it is a set of accepted beliefs or organized principles that explain and guide analysis and one of the ways that theory is defined is that it is different from practice, when certain principles are tested. There is usually a theory that underpins a relationship between two more variables; these are referred to as theories underpinning a study. Our example topic for a hypothetical seminar paper is the effect of COVID-19 on international relations. Various theories such as national interest, realism, and idealism can be used to explain the relationship between COVID-19 on international relations. When explaining theory, remember to provide a vivid description of the theory in terms of:
- the proponents (who created it),
- the year it was created,
- how it explains the relationship between the dependent and the dependent variable,
- the specific variables it explains,
- the weaknesses and strengths of the theory, and
- relevance of the theory to the current study.
Alongside the theoretical explanations, do not forget to review the specific theoretical literature related to the study. These include extensive explanations of various concepts related to a given phenomenon.
The practical part presents an analysis, discussion and evaluation of some of the practical examples or objects of investigation. These may include areas of empirical research or what has actually happened in the recent past in relation to the topic of study. Objective analysis is required in this part. When analysing evidence from previous studies, it is important to give a detailed examination of each study in terms of the author, aim of the study, methodology, results, and areas of strengths and/or weaknesses of the study. Appraising studies and/or practical applications enables the candidate writing a seminar paper to identify gaps in research and practice that they can concentrate in their future research project proposal writing.
5. Chapter Three: Conclusion
This section of a seminar paper is used to provide a focused summary of the entire paper. It requires the candidate to add own assessment and evaluation of the written seminar paper. The section can also include further aspects and outlook. In most institutions, the seminar paper provides a starting point of the project or thesis. Hence, at the conclusion point, the candidate is required to indicate what they plan to do next, for example, using the primary research methodology to collect data from live participants or using systematic analysis to generate data relating to the phenomena under investigation.
References are the sources from which information regarding the topic being investigated as extracted from. When writing a seminar paper, the candidate is required to mark all direct and indirect quotations as well as indicate the corresponding references. Inserting citations and placing the list of references at the end of the seminar paper enables the readers to appraise your work based on the credibility of sources that you used. A seminar paper that does not include all sources used to write it will be rejected. It is critical to countercheck all references against all citations to ensure that no reference is placed without a corresponding citation and no citation is inserted without a corresponding in the list of references. The problem failing to indicate the sources used is that you may be accused of infringing intellectual property rights by passing off ideas of others as your own rather than recognising the authors of the work. This amounts to serious violation of the rules of scientific duty of documentation, which may subject you to prosecution. When placing references at the end of a seminar paper, ensure to follow a specific referencing style depending on the requirements of your institution.
Things to Consider before Starting to Writing a Seminar Paper
Before embarking on writing a seminar paper, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have an original argument that will contribute to the existent studies in your subject area?
- Do I understand the extensive nature of research that is required to support my argument?
- Can I meet the resources required in terms of time and finances to develop my argument in a way that it enriches the current literature?
- How long will I take to complete writing the seminar paper?
The Process of Writing a Seminar Paper
1. Crete a Plan
Writing a seminar paper requires a candidate to do extensive research in order to write an excellent paper based on original analysis. The need to start early and complete in good time cannot be understated. Thinking that you have enough time and waiting to do a last minute rush is risky. Create a manageable time-plan and adhere to it from the start to the end. Planning will require making proper plans for each day and doing them according to the plan.
Brainstorming will help you generate ideas that you will write down in your seminar paper. It may take you time to achieve it, but it is the best practice in writing a seminar paper because it sets a solid background for the flow of ideas. When brainstorming, remember to list the ideas that you get; it will be easier to write the seminar paper when you already have listed ideas than struggling to write directly without having ready thoughts of what is required.
4. Create a Specific Question for Your Research
The brainstorming process will give enough ideas that will guide your seminar paper. At this point, it is critical to think about a specific question that will help you focus your research. Ensure that the question is simple and is focused on your theme. However, creating a too specific question may limit your study and give you a hard time finding the information on the subject. In case you reach a point that you are getting too much information, considering slightly narrowing your question to enhance the degree of specificity.
5. Start your Research
Starting your research implies collecting information from a variety of sources that differ from each other. Use a large number of sources as one way of enhancing the quality of your seminar paper. Using several sources of information also ensures that the information collected because of making comparisons across a number of sources. The most credible sources of information include library databases, journals, newspaper articles, and books. It is imperative to use sources that exhibit trustworthiness and credibility. Check the following details when appraising a source of data:
- The publication date
- Authors’ credentials
- The actual information published
- Critical Requirements of a Seminar Paper
After having several sources of information, it is advisable that your read through them reiteratively and ensure that you have a deep understanding of everything. The importance of this is that it ensures that you can quote a source of information and that you have control of your research. You may consider making copies of your sources and highlighting any significant information that you may need. In instances where making copies is not allowed, it is advisable to make notes when reading through the sources.
6. Write a Draft Paper
A draft will not as perfect as the final paper. Just put down junks of information as you gather it. Accept that it is not possible to write as excellent as you want from at the start. You will correct later. Ensure that you have the three main section (introduction, main section and conclusion) in form of a draft and put information to its relevant part.
7. Write the Final Paper
Fine tune your information in the three sections and correct all errors. Ensure that information presented in each section is relevant to that section. For example, do not introduce new information to the conclusion of your seminar paper. You introduction should specify the background, motivation, problem and research purpose. You seminar paper will be complete after you extensively review literature and theoretical underpinnings of your research phenomena.
A scientific nature of the seminar paper is closely connected to the use of literature already published in the relevant field. This means that a candidate writing a seminar paper is required to quote existing statements by previous authors, display controversial approaches and develop a position regarding the content. However, it is worth noting that reviewing the literature is auxiliary in nature, thus, cannot make up of an independent interpretation and analysis of the relevant phenomena being investigated. Make sure you read extensively before writing the seminar paper because this will equip with the skills to do it. You may need professional assistance and training to achieve your purpose. Do not hesitate to contact us.