Providing Definitions to Key Terms
Frequently, people put diverse meanings into the words they use when speaking and writing. As a result, it leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication. Modern researchers invest considerable efforts to avoid obstacles in human communication by clearly stating the definitions of the words they use describing their findings.
It is beneficial to explain the meaning of key terms in the beginning of your research project because:
- It is easy for readers to identify the methods of data gathering and explication;
- Your advisors are free to decide whether they agree with your definitions and their further usage in research process.
In addition, key words refer to the concepts that have special importance in your study. As a result, they should be unambiguous and easy to interpret for the audience. Important terms are usually stated in the topic question and project title.
There are different ways, in which the researchers define key terms:
- Providing no definitions;
- Offering synonyms;
- Giving sentence descriptions;
- Referring to shared knowledge and experience;
- Explaining by the operations used when undertaking the research.
Taking into consideration the above classification, it is important to mention that providing no definitions is acceptable only when the meaning of a key term is obvious. For example, phrases ‘family structure’, ‘high school students’, ‘academic ability’, etc. have a single meaning to general audience. Thus, these key phrases need no additional explication. On the other hand, you should not avoid defining complicated key terms such as political party aspects or political party success, because these phrases may convey different meanings to the readers.
To sum up, young researchers should always define key terms in their projects, especially if the terms bear complicated meanings that may lead to misunderstanding of the findings. Be careful when explaining your key words and make sure the definitions are easy to interpret by general audience. These are core aspects of your project’s success!