Apart from writing a research project as a final year student, you may need to write and present a seminar as part of the requirements for your graduation. While writing a seminar paper can be challenging for any final year student, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, it’s not as difficult as you may think. That’s why in this article, I’ll be giving you a detailed guide on how to write a complete final year seminar. All you need is proper planning and effort! Before we get right into it, let’s first clarify what a seminar is.
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How to Write a Complete Final Year Seminar
What is a seminar and what are seminar papers?
A seminar may have different meanings, but as relates to this topic, a seminar can be described as a class in which final year students come together to discuss original research, usually under the supervision of an academic supervisor or professor. The purpose is to bring people together to focus on a particular subject and provide an opportunity for passionate dialogue and active engagement, where students can ask and answer different questions to stimulate critical thinking. Seminars help enhance students’ skills and knowledge and improve their confidence.
A seminar paper is a work of original research on a specific topic presented during a seminar. While the format of a seminar paper may slightly vary depending on your institution and course of study, the process of writing a seminar paper is basically the same. It’s important to note that although a seminar paper like any basic research paper you may have written, there are some differences. For a seminar paper:
- You need to develop an original argument that will contribute to the body of knowledge on your subject.
- Extensive research is necessary to support your argument.
- You will need to include footnotes and endnotes. This, however, depends on the documentation style you are using.
Having established what a seminar and seminar papers are, let’s go through a step-by-step guide on how to write a complete final year seminar.
How to Write a Complete Final Year Seminar
The following steps will give you a guide on how to write a complete final year seminar that’s quality and well-researched.
- Understand the guidelines
- Choose a topic
- Plan ahead and create a schedule
- Brainstorm on ideas for your seminar paper
- Develop a research question
- Conduct your research
- Draft your seminar paper
- Revise your seminar paper
Understand the guidelines
Although you might have written other research papers before, you may need some clarification to understand the guidelines for your seminar paper. Don’t be afraid to ask! As soon as your professor/supervisor gives you the guidelines for the seminar, ensure that you go through it thoroughly. Note anything you don’t understand and ask questions. One important thing you’ll need to clarify is the documentation style for your seminar paper.
- Ask questions about how to reference the sources of your research. You may be asked to use referencing styles such as APA, MLA, or Chicago style. Just make sure you use a style approved by your supervisor.
- It’s okay to have questions! Your goal is to write an excellent seminar paper you can confidently present to earn good grades. So, ensure you get it right from the beginning!
Choose a topic
Typically, your supervisor will give you the scope and specifications for your seminar paper, and you’ll need to choose a topic that’s within this scope.
- Avoid topics that are too broad and difficult to exhaust. For example, instead of choosing a topic like ‘Effects of Banking on the Economy,’ a seminar topic like ‘Effects of Banking Reforms on the Nigerian Economy’ would be better.
- Use a case study where possible to further streamline your seminar topic. A case study used in the example above will give a topic like ‘Effects of Banking Reforms on Nigerian Economy. A case study of the Central Bank of Nigeria.’
- Avoid topics that have limited existing research or that are too technical for you. You don’t want to get confused as you conduct your research!
- Consider talking to your academic supervisor about your intended topic. That’s a good way to make sure you’re on the right track.
Plan ahead and create a schedule
Writing an excellent seminar paper will require you to carry out extensive research and original analysis. It’s not something you can do in just a few days! It’s therefore crucial for you to begin as soon as your seminar is assigned to you. This way, you’ll have sufficient time to make any necessary adjustments to your seminar paper if needed, and prepare ahead for your presentation.
- Draw up a schedule of the individual steps you’ll need to take to write your paper and how much time each step will take. Although the schedule isn’t cast in concrete and you can make changes as you work, creating and following your schedule will keep you on track and efficient.
- Don’t assume you have sufficient time to begin your research only a few days before your presentation. That’s a recipe for a poor seminar paper!
Brainstorm on ideas for your seminar paper
Before you start writing your seminar paper, it’s important that you get some ideas written on paper. Although this could take some time, your seminar paper would be easier to write if you already have some ideas to work with than if you’re trying to write it from scratch. The following are some methods you can use to generate original ideas for your seminar paper:
- Listing: This is probably the easiest method. Make a list of all the ideas you can think of for your seminar paper. Don’t be bothered about whether the ideas are good or bad. Go through the list and group similar ideas together. Expand the list by writing more ideas in each group. You can combine this method with another method below to get the best results.
- Questioning: Get a piece of paper and write “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?” Answer each of these questions with as much detail as possible as it relates to your chosen topic. This is a great way to get a better understanding of what your topic is all about and clarity is key!
- Freewriting: Without stopping, write everything that comes to your mind regarding your seminar topic for about 10 to 12 minutes. When you’re done, go through what you’ve written and highlight the most important information. Using your highlights as a starting point, repeat the freewriting process to further expand your ideas. Go over this exercise several times. This will help you refine and get more concrete ideas.
- Clustering: Using a few words, write a brief explanation of your topic in the middle of a paper and circle it. Draw lines from the circle and write ideas behind each line. Circle these ideas, draw lines from them and continue to build your cluster until you have exhausted your ideas.
Develop a research question
After generating ideas on your topic, it’s important that you develop a research question. The research question is what you will try to answer with your research. It will guide your research and keep you focused. It can also be a good starting point for your thesis later.
- For example, if your seminar topic is ‘The Role of Stockbrokers in The Economic Development of Nigeria,’ you can start with a research question like ‘How have stockbrokers contributed to the economic development of Nigeria?’
- Make sure your research question is simple and focused on your topic. As you gather information, you can make some changes to your question to suit the information you find. You can further narrow down your question if you’re coming up with so much information and it’s getting too elaborate.
Conduct your research
To support your argument, you’ll need to get information from various reliable sources. You can check your seminar guidelines or ask your supervisor to find out what sources are acceptable.
- Typically, sources like scholarly journals, books, newspapers and magazine articles, and reliable websites are great places to get information.
- Your university’s library database is a good place to get trustworthy resources that you may not access using a search engine. Google scholar could also be helpful.
One important thing to note as you conduct your research is that you need to verify the trustworthiness of the sources you’re using. Unreliable sources can negatively affect the credibility of your seminar paper. You should consider the following to determine if a source is trustworthy:
- Publication date: Check the publication date to ensure you use the most up-to-date information possible. This is particularly important in scientific research, where new findings may have made earlier ones irrelevant.
- Author’s credentials: It’s important that you check the author’s credentials to verify that he/she is qualified to speak on the subject. For example, an article about a medical condition is certainly more credible if written by a professor of medicine than an economist.
- Citations: It’s necessary that you use information that has been thoroughly researched. Check the author’s bibliography to be sure that the research is properly cited. If there are only a few or no citations, the information may not be credible.
- Publication’s credentials: As much as possible, use sources that are academically based and accepted by the research community, such as peer-reviewed journals or books. Use unbiased sources.
After gathering all your sources, read them carefully to ensure you thoroughly understand the information. You can ask for clarification from your supervisor. Ensure that you take notes as you read and highlight all significant information. Don’t forget to properly cite your sources when taking notes. You don’t want to be penalised for plagiarism!
Draft your seminar paper
You have learnt a lot already about how to write a complete final year seminar. It’s finally time to draft your paper! You can create an outline for your paper. Dividing it into parts will make it easier to write. The first part should be your introduction, which would contain an opening sentence; context/background information; and your thesis statement. The next part is the body of your paper. Then your conclusion followed by your references. Here are some vital things to note as you draft your paper.
- Write your thesis statement: Your thesis statement should be clear, direct and not more than one sentence. Remember that a seminar paper is an advanced writing project. Hence, your thesis statement should present a perspective that’s original and advanced.
- Make your introduction interesting: Try to grab your reader’s attention from the beginning of your paper. Ensure that your introduction is engaging. Remember that your readers should be able to identify the main idea of your seminar paper from your introduction. So, your introduction should serve as a preview of the rest of your paper.
- Provide relevant background information: Give your readers relevant background information to help them understand the rest of your paper. Depending on your topic and the argument you plan to make, this may be information on the history of your subject or what other researchers have written about your topic. The goal is to help readers understand your point of view.
- Present the body of your paper in a well-structured manner: The body of your seminar paper should provide evidence to prove your thesis. Discuss each piece of evidence or claim in a new paragraph. Remember to include relevant examples to defend your argument. Use headings and subheadings to organise and improve the readability of your paper.
- Conclude your paper: Read through what you have written to determine the most logical way to conclude your paper. You could end your paper by giving your readers a summary of your discussion and the lessons gained from your argument, or you could explain why your topic matters and the broader implications of your topic.
- Write your references: Ensure that you follow the instructions of your supervisor and use the approved referencing style. All your sources should be properly cited to avoid plagiarism.
Revise your seminar paper:
Revising your seminar paper goes beyond proofreading it to correct grammar and punctuation errors. It involves thoroughly going through your paper to see how well you have presented your argument, if your readers can clearly understand what you have written, and to identify ways to improve your content.
- A great tip is to take a break (a few days) before revising your paper. This way, you allow your brain to rest and you can revise your draft with a fresh perspective. Revising your seminar paper immediately after you finish drafting it can make you error-prone and lead to simple mistakes that will affect your grade.
- Ensure that your seminar paper is free from all typographical and grammatical errors. You can revise it as many times as possible before printing your final copy.
After reading this article, you now know how to write a complete final year seminar. If you follow this guide closely, you will write an excellent seminar that you can confidently defend and earn good grades. Remember to share this article with other final year students.
All the best!!