A paper on integrity will define the word for a certain purpose and audience. The purpose is the reason for writing the essay, and the audience is the reader. An essay on integrity in a philosophy class may define the word as a particular way of thinking or acting, whereas an essay in an economics journal may define it in terms of financial interactions. Engineers, political scientists and computer systems analysts all write about integrity from different perspectives or contexts. The writer will organize and develop his paper based on its purpose and audience.

Step 1

Identify the paper's purpose and audience. The purpose may be to explain how several philosophers interpret the word "integrity," to compare and contrast two economists' views on ethical business practices, or to convince the reader that structural integrity in engineering and construction is worth the price. Identify an audience that will want or need to know the information the paper will present.

Step 2

Research definitions of integrity in the context of the purpose of the paper. Begin by consulting specialized dictionaries, encyclopedia and other reference books in the field of study. College and research libraries have a large collection of reference materials, for example encyclopedias of philosophy, economics journals and structural engineering texts. There are plenty of online resources in these areas as well.

Step 3

Compose a definition of integrity that suits your purpose and audience. Write a thesis statement, or main idea, for the essay that operationalizes the definition. For example: "Plato defines integrity as a moral value, an absolute, unchanging truth;" or, "Classical approaches to business ethics are based on values such as fairness and the common good;" or, "The short-term gains of building without structural integrity are not worth the long-term losses in human and material resources."

Step 4

Create an outline of the essay based on the thesis statement. Under each main topic, list some details, facts and examples from your researched sources: Develop a paper on Plato's definition of integrity by using quotes from his writings on moral values and applying them to scenarios of modern life. For a paper on business ethics, collect examples of contemporary business practices based on values of fairness such as Fair Trade businesses. Develop a paper on structural integrity by providing safety statistics and cost analysis comparisons.

Step 5

Write a rough draft of the essay, keeping the purpose and audience in mind. Define any unusual or specialized terms to the reader: Plato defines "absolute" as unchanging, and absolute value as eternal law; "Fair Trade" refers to producers of goods receiving a fair price for goods and fair wages within their local context. Explain how this and each detail in the essay relates to the main idea.

Step 6

Examine the topic for any negative aspects or drawbacks; is there a downside to integrity? Ask and answer questions like these: Would Plato have been a benevolent or autocratic leader? Can Fair Trade ever be unfair? Is the principle of structural integrity in engineering based mainly on the value of human life or material resources? Address any areas of negativity head-on, then demonstrate how they do not undermine your thesis.

Step 7

Conclude your essay on integrity by reminding the reader of the purpose and main idea. Bring the reader back to Plato's definition of integrity as unchanging moral value, and find a correlation to it in contemporary life. Summarize the global benefits of fair trade practices and list some companies that practice this form of integrity. End the essay on structural integrity by identifying buildings in your locale that meet the specifications and provide the long-term benefits identified in the paper.

Step 8

Cite all researched sources used in the writing of the paper using the appropriate documentation style --- most often APA or MLA.