Welcome to ScholarShape’s Academic Writing Month! I’m sharing a new writing reflection question each day all month, in short videos on this blog. For background on this exercise and a full listing of all videos posted so far, check out this page. To turn on subtitles: On a computer, hover at the bottom of the video window to make the row of icons appear; click on the “settings” icon (which looks like a cog), and select “Subtitles.” On a phone, the “subtitles” icon is in the bottom right corner of the screen. To invite friends: Anyone can join this exercise at any point in the 30 days by signing up at the bottom of this page!
DAY 16 CONTENT SUMMARY:
Think about one of the key terms or constructs in your study. How are you defining it, and how does this definition function within your argument? This question isn’t as simple as it may seem: definitions can be slippery, yet they are often foundational building blocks in our arguments, in the sense that we have to establish what we are even talking about before we can build analyses, evaluations, and other more sophisticated levels of argumentation. So, it’s important to be deliberate in how we define things and how we deploy our definitions.
Getting really clear on how we are defining a key term in our project may indicate that more space needs to be carved out in the manuscript to make the definition explicit, since the working definition you have in your head may not be identical to the ones readers are bringing to your book. This exercise may also yield insight about how the argument as a whole needs to be framed.
Not only are definitions important building blocks in any argument; but also, the act of developing definitions can be an important part of the intellectual work that happens in the creation of an argument. This reflection question is an opportunity to get clear on one of the important definitions in your project and consider the implications of that definition for your argument development or revision.