Accounting Term Papers: A Writing Guide


What is an accounting term paper?

An accounting term paper is a lengthy, researched report on a topic in the field of accounting or business management, typically completed over the course of a semester or at the end of a course for a final grade. Writing such a paper involves selecting a specific writing topic in the field of accounting, conducting research on the topic or central idea, forming an outline, writing a draft, and editing into a final paper for submission.

Necessary Elements

A term paper should have at least ten to twenty cited sources, and the information generated should be adequate to describe the topic at length or answer the research question clearly. The paper should be written in the proper style and format, typically APA, Chicago Booth, or sometimes MLA, though you should check with your instructor. The language should be high-quality, polished Standard Written English, and there should be a bibliography or reference page.

The Topic

Select a topic in accounting that you are familiar with. Choose one you have previously covered in the accounting class you are currently taking, so it is fresh in your mind and will be easier to begin research on. If you are uncertain, take a topic or question that often comes up in lecture or in the course syllabus, as it is likely to be a topic your instructor finds very interesting. Never select a topic you are not capable of explaining casually before you even begin research.

The Research

After choosing a topic, perform searches for information on the topic using academic search engines such as JSTOR, WorldCat, and Google Scholar. Search for the topic and use related synonyms as well. When you find a good source, “snowball” the information into an even greater number of sources by checking the citations on the sources and tracking those down, and then tracking down sources that are cited in that work, and so on. Read and take notes.

The Outline

After you have read your research on the topic, think very deeply about how to organize the information and tackle the topic. Whittle away unimportant or irrelevant information. Form a coherent outline that remains focused on the topic at hand or the research question.

The Draft

Once you have an outline, fill in the blanks! Take your research and write a series of paragraphs that fulfill all the necessary sections of the paper. Cite the research you have read and describe it at length to fill up the paper. If you have completed the outline, you probably have all the information you need already-- it’s just a matter of coloring within the lines.

The Second Edit

Wait a few days, re-read your essay (read it aloud), and make any changes to the writing that seem necessary. You’re done! You have now created a well-researched accounting term paper.