Jane Powell Scrapbook essay writing tips

What Kind Of Research Is Necessary For A Concept Essay: Useful Advice

Concept essays are exactly the kinds of essays that Socrates would have written if he were in college! They explore the meanings of ideas such as courage, nobility, or respect. Though we use such words daily, and can find definitions of them in the dictionary, digging a little deeper yields rich fields of meaning, culture, history, and personal experience. Precisely because there are so many possible avenues to consider, contemplate, and explore, is what makes this type of paper challenging, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately deeply rewarding. Far from being ill considered, solipsist monologues though, these papers are still grounded in reason, and demand research to execute well. Here are three approaches to researching concept essays that will set you up to write well.

The Definitions

Start your research on the surface of the concepts by checking a few different dictionaries or encyclopedias for definitions. Note carefully where they agree, where they have unique elements, and where they diverge. To complete the picture, do the same for potential antonyms of your idea. For example, if your exploring bravery, investigate the definitions of cowardice, fear, and weakness.

The Writings

For almost all of the great concepts, you will easily find explorations from writers and thinkers throughout history. Read and analyse their key points, claims, and conclusions, particularly against each other and against the definitions that started your research. The Socratic dialogues are probably the most famous examples, though they covered relatively few ideas. They have been emulated since the time of Socrates, fortunately, and are relatively easy to come by through searches such as “What is courage” or “Understanding courage”.

The Experiences

Our common usage of concepts ultimately taps into our experiences with these ideas, be they in our own lives, or through the lives of others. The stories we tell have a great power to demonstrate ideas, as we understand them. But more importantly, some stories challenge our previous definitions, and force us to consider other dimensions to our ideas. These are the stories you should seek out in your research.

Harnessing the definitions, reasoning, and experiences around your chosen idea will give you’re your unique perspective on the idea. And ultimately, it is your personal view that will form the basis of your concept essay in a way that if balanced with an acknowledgement of the history and culture of the concept, will set you well on your way to writing that is engaging, thought provoking, and very rewarding.

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