Final Paper AssignmentFinal paper project – final paper submission

by John Bandler

This page is about the final paper assignment (the last part of the final paper project), where you submit your final paper.

By now, you have already submitted a paper topic and then a paper outline, and also presented your topic to the class. Now is the time for the final paper

In sum

In sum, submit a quality final paper, appropriate for your level course, reflecting significant research, thought, writing, and editing.

See the template, and either use it or ensure your paper includes all of those features.

Remember your paper outline submission and my feedback. Follow the paper assignment instructions, my feedback, do additional research and thought, and do considerable writing, editing, proofreading, and more editing.

The final paper should be a maximum of 2,000 words or 3,000 words (see the exact requirement for your course, Law school 3,000 words, all others 2,000 words). This word count does not include citations, references, and end of paper comments. Please do not go over. Don't be too short either.

It needs to be of appropriate quality and scholarship for your level course (undergraduate, graduate, law school, etc.). Cite to appropriate primary sources (statutes, regulations, cases), and reliable secondary and tertiary sources. Start with materials covered in the syllabus and expand.

Have thoughtful and quality organization, logical legal analysis, good writing. Effort counts. The goal is your learning. Help me to learn too. Put in work early and steadily for a better result, and ease into the deadline to avoid a last-minute scramble.

Proofread your work, see the instructions and other links, including the checklist. Don't forget the full references list and the student response portion about consultation with school resources.

Your learning takes place with your effort. Learn about your topic and improve your skills researching, writing, and editing.

This is the finish line, submitting your final paper represents the end of our semester long project and marathon.Paper Project Process Marathon 2023-5 (6) Final paper

A guideline - template

Here is a Word document as a guideline and template if you want it. (You do not have to use it as a template). Again, remember to start with the work from your outline assignment, incorporate my feedback, keep improving your organization, write, edit, edit, and edit. Consult school resources like the library and writing center.


Occasionally a student asks for a more formal rubric. I already offer extensive guidance on the website and throughout the course, but I created this rubric in response to those requests. As you would expect, this rubric refers heavily to the assignment instructions and other guidance.

A. Process and learning

  1. Substantial research
  2. Substantial learning by the student
  3. Substantial editing and refinement
  4. Consulted available school resources for research and writing
  5. Consulted resources and checklists on this site
  6. Submitted all phased assignments (topic assignment, paper outline, paper presentation) and incorporated feedback
  7. Improved self and improved the final product through continual honest effort

B. Final Product

  1. Clear organization, including a clear title, approximately 5-7 outline points (section headers required), including an introduction and conclusion
  2. Clear writing, understandable to reader (and writer of course)
  3. Clear analysis
  4. Writing reflects substantial research, including on law (law students will devote exceptional focus on legal research). Research start was any assigned course materials and progressed well beyond that.
  5. Proper paragraph structure, sentence structure, word choice, grammar, punctuation, capitalization.
  6. Followed the final paper assignment instructions (this page)
  7. Followed the paper submission checklist
  8. Properly quoted and cited where appropriate, properly cited where appropriate.
  9. After the paper conclusion there is a "References" or "Bibliography" section listing relevant references you consulted in your research
    • References are relevant and authoritative
    • Relevant materials within the syllabus are listed
    • Prior feedback on references is incorporated
  10. After the references there is a "Student reflection, comments, and questions" section where you:
    • List your consultation with the school library, including date, time, person consulted, and summarize how it went for you.
      • If the library told you they could not assist you (this will be rare - most library staff go out of their way to try help - but maybe you waited till the last minute, maybe they are short staffed) let me know and spend some time consulting their guides and my guides and summarize how that went.
    • List your consultation with the writing center, including date, time, person consulted, and summarize how it went for you.
      • Same comment as above, and PS, one school I teach at does not have a writing center.
    • If you did not consult them (as required by this project) indicate why, and with good detail.
    • Summarize how this submission and the process went for you, and what you learned from the process.

More details

  • Use your paper outline as a start, and copy those parts into the guideline/template document above.
  • Do a "save as" and give your submission document a good filename, e.g., STUDENTLASTNAME PAPER SUBJECT 2024-xx-xx
  • Add the text. Write it, edit it, proofread it more, formatting, formalities, etc.
  • Paper length:
    • Undergraduate and graduate: Maximum 2,000 words (about 8 pages) not including references.
    • Law school: Maximum 3,000 words (about 12 pages) not including references.
    • Don't go over by much
    • Mark Twain said: "I'm sorry I wrote this long letter, I didn't have time to write a shorter letter." You have time to edit and be concise and within the length limits.
  • Your final paper needs to be of appropriate quality reflecting your own work and substantial effort.
  • Quality should be commensurate to the course education level. Undergraduate courses are one expectation level, higher for graduate
    level, and even higher for law school.
  • Effort counts! Put in effort and do your best work. You can do it.
  • Law tie-in: Your paper is about law, so you must tie it into law (which is not hard to do, we are a nation of laws).
    • Law school students of course need to have exceptional legal research and scholarship.
  • Cite to appropriate primary sources (statutes, regulations, cases), and reputable secondary sources, and reputable tertiary sources.
  • Have quality organization, logical legal analysis, clear writing, grammar, etc.
  • Have fun, put in effort, learn about writing and your topic, and help me to learn something too.
  • Put in early and steady work to achieve a better result and learning.
  • Ease into the deadline, avoid a last-minute scramble.
  • Feel free to bounce any ideas off of me in advance.
  • Consult my resources linked to below and throughout.

Wait, this is overwhelming, there are too many instructions for me

I built this out in response to student inquiries and needs over the years. Some students want more, but I realize it might be too much for some to digest, especially at first glance.

So focus on the main goals. You learning about the topic and communicating it. The process of research, thinking, writing, and editing. Remember to put in good, honest effort. Focus on my feedback. Start with the high priority instructions and the overarching goal. Start with the course materials. Then, you can work on some of the details later.

Wait, there are not enough instructions

Review other articles on the paper process (see links below), reread as needed, ask in class, email me, meet with me, and remember the goal is your honest effort and learning.

And remember that forever in life you will be faced with many situations where you do not know exactly what others expect or desire, including supervisors, clients, customers, judges, and even family. You will also face many difficult decisions and situations, and much uncertainty. If you feel that uncertainty here, this is an opportunity to practice doing your best in those circumstances and with the guidance provided. Ask me, but don't wait till the last minute.

And above all, remember the goal is your learning about the topic and communicating it, the process of research, thinking, writing, and editing. Remember to put in good, honest effort.

Will you read my draft?

Unfortunately I cannot commit to reading drafts. Instead, please see all my prior feedback, ask specific questions, or talk through any issues with me at office hours, in class, after class, or email me.

More on that in my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) article.

Writing resources include

Research resources include

Final paper project

Other links

Watch me walk through these instructions in a short video

Posted 8/15/2022 based on years of teaching. Updated 5/16/2024