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Common Problems with the
Definition Paper

Concept

____    The essay is unfocused. It is not clear what point the writer is trying to make  about this concept that is being defined.

____    The writer apparently has not mastered the concept and relies too much on sources and jargon, lacks authority.

____    The explanation seems inappropriate for the audience--telling them too much or too little.


Plan

____    The essay is hard to follow.

____    The writer neglects to forecast the plan and provide transitions.

____    The information needs to be rearranged to make more sense.


Definitions and Other Writing Strategies

____    Definitions of terms likely to be unfamiliar to readers are inadequate.

____    The writer has not made use of clearly relevant strategies of presenting information using comparison and contrast, classification, cause and effect, and examples.

____    Examples don't seem to have a clear purpose or point.

____    The writer concentrates on recent developments, when readers need background information or historical information.

____    Instead of reporting on a concept, the writer takes a position on an issue related to the concept.


Sources

____    The citations and sources reveal a superficial or incomplete search for information.

____    Certain sources are inappropriate, dated, or peripheral.

____    The essay relies too much or too little on quoted material.

____    Quoted material is not integrated smoothly into the writer's text.

____    Sources cited are not in the reference list.

____    Citations and references do not consistently follow an accepted documentation style.