How To Provide Definitions Of Terms In A Research Paper: Tips & Examples

If you need to compose a research paper, you should clearly define terms and concepts that you are going to use in the text. It takes a while to understand which ones you should explain, and how to do it in the most efficient way. You can look for templates on the Internet, consult your supervisor, ask your classmates about their experience, or visit an instructor at the university writing center. Either way, you will get plenty of information to consider. The following tips and examples will help you evaluate the materials you found and provide definitions of terms in your research paper in a proper way:

  1. Find the right place for the definition section.
  2. Place term and definition section at the start of your work, right after the paragraph that introduces the purpose of the study and before the main sections.

  3. Use a single paragraph for each concept and term that you define.
  4. However, you might provide two or more definitions and determine the one you are going to use in your research.

  5. Start defining nouns and adjectives and stay specific.
  6. Writing instructors suggest selecting nouns from your title and thesis statement and explaining their meanings. For example, write what “international trade” is instead of just “trade.”

  7. Specify what adjectives and verbs combinations mean in your paper.
  8. For instance, consider that phrases “is better” or “seems the best way to” may mean completely different things in different kinds of studies. Combinations of adverbs such as “negatively” and “positively” could also have different meanings.

  9. Do not forget to specify the meanings of your own terms.
  10. One of the best templates that you can use is the following: in this study, the word term one is used to define the following definition.

  11. Write using a list format.
  12. This makes a research paper easier to read, so many students use this format. However, some writing manuals suggest writing a single paragraph for each concept.

  13. Remember to cite the sources properly.
  14. You should keep in mind that it is necessary to cite sources from where you borrow explanations. Use special software to site as you write. Sometimes, it is a good idea to use footnotes.

  15. Work with several dictionaries.
  16. You cannot prepare a strong definition of terms chapter if you work with a single dictionary. Choose several the most appropriate dictionaries and provide different meanings of words and phrases.