How To Define Terms In Your Research Paper Properly

When you are writing a research paper, there are times when you will need to include some definitions. You don’t have to define every term that you think that your reader won’t know. There are terms that you may use that readers don’t know but if it doesn’t relate specifically to your topic, then you should not worry about defining it.

In your introduction, you will not only be writing about the background information. You will also want to define some key words that your reader may not know. Knowing how to put a definition in your essay is a good idea. Just remember that you only define words that are specific to your topic. Any other words that are difficult but are used in general conversations should not be defined. Here is some simple steps that will teach you how to add a definition into your research paper.

  1. Decide on what words you will need to define. If the term is a technical term, it should be defines. Any type of industry jargon should also be defined. You do not want to go overboard on this because it will make your paper very confusing. The reader can look in a dictionary if they don’t understand every word. Choose some of the most dominant ones and the most unique ones to define.
  2. Put the definition from a dictionary or other source into your own words. You can quote a source for one of the definitions but then you must explain it in your own words. You wouldn’t want to use quotes for every word that you are defining. You are writing a paper that analyzes other sources not just pastes them together.
  3. If you do use a direct quote, be sure to cite it properly to give the credit and ensure that you are not plagiarizing the sources.
  4. The definitions should be presented in the introduction after the background information unless they pertain directly to one of your points. Some writers believe that you should leave definitions to the body, but you should set up a foundation for your paper. If the reader sees a word they don’t understand in the introduction and don’t have a clue what it is. They are not going to continue reading the paper because they feel like they wouldn’t understand it anyways.