Because chemistry courses usually depend heavily on textbook work and laboratory work, instructors who assign chemistry term papers usually have a specific reason for doing so. The student's first task in producing a chemistry term paper is to ascertain that specific reason. For example, the instructor may want students to write papers on late-breaking research in the field, especially if an organization is conducting an experiment of exceptional proportions and importance, or the instructor may want students to report in detail on their own laboratory work.
Once the student has determined what the instructor is expecting, he or she may begin research. If the instructor requests an in-depth laboratory report, the student's first task is to conduct the experiment several times in order to assure the accuracy of all results. The student should take careful notes on each step of the experiment, and if anything unexpected occurs at any stage, he or she should try very hard to figure out why it happened. The student should also perform any outside research necessary to collaborate the results of the experiment, such as reading and citing books or journal articles.
If the student has to produce a chemistry term paper that mostly depends on written research (as opposed to primary research that one conducts in a laboratory), he or she should begin by reading enough about the topic in an encyclopedia or textbook to get a good grasp on the basics. Then the student should progress to reading all books and journal articles that are available on the subject, being careful to pay very close attention to their dates of publication and not to rely on outdated materials.
Once students have completed all their research, whether through reading or through conducting experiments, they may move on to writing their chemistry term papers. These papers will probably be mostly expository, presenting information for the reader rather than presenting a persuasive argument on some topic. In all research papers but particularly in those for science fields, students should be careful not to try to make any points without solid evidence.