Techniques in Writing a Concept Paper

A concept paper may be explained using different methods of paragraph development, namely: definition, explication, and clarification.

Definition is the method of describing a given concept and making its meaning clear by means of giving a description, examples, and illustrations.

A formal definition explains the concept using general classifications and differentiating characteristics of that concept. The dictionary uses formal definitions. On the other hand, an informal definition, as the term implies, uses more familiar words and examples to define a concept.

The following example uses dictionary entries or existing knowledge paradigms in defining social activism:

The dictionary defines social activism as the use of direct, often confrontational actions such as demonstrations or strike, rallies or other mass acts rather than supporting a cause. Further, it is an action directed at cultivating changes, practices or policies to effect social change. The traditional duty of a social activist includes interacting with policy makers to make sure a relevant plan of action is carried out. The term also conveys being attuned to societal conditions directly affecting the community. In the traditional sense, a social activist is expected to take concrete actions—usually in a dramatic and drastic way to institute changes that would benefit society as a whole.

Another way of writing your concept paper is through explication. It is the method of explaining a concept or issue by borrowing sentences, verses or passages from an academic or literary work and explaining these thoroughly in relation to the concept being explained.

Another way of using this technique is by clarifying a concept or issue through the thesis statement explained in a detailed way. In the following example, note how the thesis statement was used to explain the concept:

Due to the evolving concept of authentic social activism, it should no longer be equated with hard-core radicalism reflected in anti-government stance and slogans. (thesis statement) In its truest sense, social activism means being an active believer in the power of nation-building where concerned citizens are willing and able to participate in the affairs of the community. A person who is detached from the affairs of the nation is far from being a social activist. Because it is now devoid of its radical connotation, social activism has come to mean everyday heroism. Far from its left-wing feature, social activism has now evolved into the kind of activism that translates into concern for others.

Clarification is another technique that involves organizing ideas from abstract, or those not readily understood, to concrete examples, or those easily understood. This technique involves analyzing the concept by looking at the examples and then drawing out a definition based on this information.

In the following example, the concept of social activism has been explained using a combination of definition, explication, and clarification.

Nowadays, social activism seems to have distanced itself from its subversive-driven connotation. In the face of changing social, political and historical contexts, social activism is now defined as going beyond its radical feature. It now means being one with the nation in its quest for social justice. It used to be associated with left-wing movement and rallying for reform the hard-core way. Social activism is no longer about fighting the government in the quest for social reform but about answering the call for nation-building and all its attendant goals: to help fight poverty and injustice and find the most pro-active solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems.