Definition Essay



Using the definition essays you read as examples, write a 500-word definition essay about a topic of your choiceYou may consider one of the following:

 • What is a hero?

• What is a good parent?

• What is an ethical choice?

Your essay will be graded on its ability to adhere to the definition essay formDoes your essay attempt to define a problematic concept? Does it add to the discussion of how people might understand the topic? What is at stake in your discussion? In other words, is there a group of people who might be vindicated by your definition?  Remember that while you are writing a definition essay, you want to avoid using the dictionary itselfThis is meant to be a definition that you create, not one that you copy from a source. In addition, the dictionary is never considered a strong academic source because information that comes from the dictionary and encyclopedias is considered “common knowledge.”Inserting a dictionary definition into your paper indicates weak research efforts.

ALSO, keep in mind the following: Who, exactly, is your audience, and why do they need to know your definition?

You will be graded using the following categories: content, organization, grammar and style conventions, resources, references and APA formatting. Your essay will also be graded on development. See the flow chart on page 77 in Strategies for Writing Successful Research Papers for guidance. Be sure that you revise, proofread, and format your essay according to APA standards. See The CSU Citation Guide, 6th edition.  

NOTE: When you use outside sources, you need to use quotation marks for lifted language, as well as in-text and reference list citations.


The APA organization/formatting should adhere to specifications for research papers, including the following:

• A title page that includes the title of the paper, the name of the student, and the name of the institution (Columbia Southern University);

• A proper running head according to APA 6th edition guidelines found in the CSU Citation Guide on pp. 13-14;

• One (1) academically valid source (see p. 18 of the CSU Citation Guide for assistance with finding sources through the CSU Online Library)

• A reference page with a centered header of “References” properly reflecting all sources used within the text (see the CSU Citation Guide, p. 16 for overall formatting guidelines and pp. 7 - 12 for formatting guidelines for specific source types.

RESEARCH RULES: The most reliable sources for appropriate information on the Internet will come from .gov, .edu, and .org sites or sites specifically devoted to scholarly writing, such as websites of scientific journalsUnacceptable sources are blogs, unreferenced articles, or general information from .com sites. General encyclopedias are prohibited sources and include, but are not limited to, Wikipedia, Encarta, Britannica, and World Book. Please utilize the CSU Online Library for credible and reliable electronic sources.

If your essay is less than 500 words, you will not receive full credit, and depending on the word count, your grade may be severely impacted.

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