In college there are always a few guidelines that one needs to keep in mind when it comes to academic writing, much of the work comes not from writing, but from editing.
When researching your idea, have something already in mind, but be open to change. Term papers can be like works of fiction, you have an idea in mind, but the more you research, in all likelihood your original idea will change. It can change not just from the original premise; you may be researching an issue, which is controversial, and have a perspective, yet during the process your opinion may change, and before you know it, you’re writing a new paper entirely.
When you have your rough draft, that will be the easy part, it is when you edit, that the work begins. It is essential, that you give yourself the luxury of time, because editing will be very time consuming. There have been many papers written, where the overall piece fell flat simply because people did not take the time to edit. When you edit, obviously you check grammar, but grammar is not what is really at stake. How is your arguments formed. If you’re doing a paper, which involves quantitative research, you’re basically presenting a new idea. What are the sources of that idea, and has something like this been done before. A good example is the argument for Intelligent Design, many in the scientific community have rejected Intelligent Design simply stating it is simply creationism repackaged; and if it has any merit, it should be review in front of a review board. If your paper is more qualitative research, what criticisms do you have of the data, being researched, and can your counter arguments be tested. These are all things you must take into consideration.
When arguing not only must you argument be consistent, but your conclusion must be consistent with the overall points. I have read books on issues, where pundits have not only had chapters contradict each other, but sections within chapters, which are not consistent. As in debating, you would not want the person you’re debating to use your own quotes against you. It is important when you research to have your paper be consistent from beginning to end.