Decide whether you are going to explain the similarities and differences between subjects in order to make either or both of them clear—an EXPLANATORY comparison OR you are going to evaluate the subjects in order to establish their advantages and disadvantages—an EVALUATIVE comparison.
Your THESIS will depend on this decision
EXPLANATION: Though rugby requires less strength and more stamina than American football, the two games are very much alike in their rules and strategies.
EVALUATION: The two diets result in similarly raid weight loss, but Harris’s requires ;much more self-discipline and is nutritionally much h riskier than Marconi’s.
Body Organization Suggestions
Generally give subjects equal emphasis when they are equally familiar or are being evaluated.
Stress one subject over the other when it is less familiar.
Generally stress similarities and differences equally when all the points of comparison are equally familiar.
Organization Continued . . .
Stress the differences with subjects that are usually considered similar.
Stress the similarities between subjects that are usually considered different.
Subject-by-subject: each one is explained in full, one before the other (usually reserved for short essays)
Point-by-point: points are covered one at a time (usually the more useful approach)
Help the reader see the whole picture.
Comment on the significance of the comparison.
Advise readers on how they can use the information.
Recommend a specific course of action for readers to follow.
Cause and Effect Analysis
A change of mind about an important issue
What accounts for the popularity of ___________ ?
Why is the United States facing an economic crisis?
How does a person’s addiction impact his/her family?
What effects do you expect your work ethic to have on your career choice?
Speculate on the resulting reaction when you combine _____ and ______ and explain why that will occur.
Why do people root for the underdog?
Use this method when dividing occurrences into their elements to find relationships among them.
Analyze CAUSES to discover which of the events PRECEDING a specified outcome actually made it happen.
Analyze EFFECTS to discover which of the events FOLLOWING a specified occurrence actually resulted from it.
Purpose Continued . . .
Your purpose in analyzing might be to EXPLAIN or to PERSUADE.
Analysis requires identifying them, but also discerning their relationships accurately and weighing their significance fairly.
Challenges Continued . . .
Causes and effects often occur in a sequence, each contributing to the next in a CAUSAL CHAIN. Identifying this chain involves sorting out events in time:
IMMEDIATE: the causes or effects occur nearest the event
REMOTE: the causes or events occur further away in time.
Challenges Continued . . .
Analyzing causes also requires distinguishing their relative importance in the sequence:
MAJOR: These causes are directly and primarily responsible for the outcome.
MINOR: These causes (also called CONTRIBUTORY) merely contribute to the outcome.
A confusion of the coincidence and the cause—in other words, an assumption that because one event preceded another, it must have caused the other (post hoc—”after this, therefore because of this)
superstitions illustrate post hoc
A accuses B of ________ . B is upset and leaves in his car. Shortly after, B has an accident. B’s friend accuses A of causing the accident. In the absence of proof, the friend commits the error of post hoc by asserting that A caused B’s accident simply because his accusation preceded the accident.
Pitfalls Continued . . .
OVER-SIMPLIFICATION: consider not only the causes and effects that seem obvious but all possibilities: remote as well as immediate, minor as well as major.
NECESSARY cause: one that must happen I order for an effect to come about; an effect can have more than one necessary cause.
SUFFICIENT cause: one that brings about the effect by itself.
Pitfalls Continued . . .
Over-simplification can also occur if you allow opinions or emotions to cloud the interpretation of evidence.
To achieve a balanced analysis, you have to put aside your own feelings and consider all possible causes for the occurrence.
Whether your subject suggests a focus on causes, effects, or both list as many of them as you can from memory or from research.
Why did it happen?
What contributed to it?
What were or are the result
What might its consequences be?
One or more of these questions should lead you to a focus for the essay.
Planning Continued . . .
Arrange the causes or effects in sequence and weigh their relative importance.
Anticipate the expectations and needs of your audience, considering what they already know and what they need to be told.
Develop a THESIS that states your subject, your perspective on it, and your purpose. The thesis should reflect your judgments about the relative significance of possible causes or effects.
Pull readers in by describing the situation whose causes or effects you plan to analyze.
Provide background—a brief narrative of the situation, a summary of the analysis of causes and effects that your essay will dispute.
If your thesis is not already apparent, stating it explicitly can tell readers exactly what your purpose is and which causes and effects you plan to highlight. (If you anticipate readers will oppose your thesis, you may wait to state it until the end after you have provided proof.)
The arrangement of your ideas will depend on your material and your emphasis.
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER for events that unfold in a causal chain—each event causing another effect.
ORDER OF IMPORTNCE if events overlap or vary in significance, try. Tis shows which events are major and which minor and reserves your most significant (and most detailed) point for last.
You may want to restate your thesis—or state it if you deliberately withheld it for the end—so that readers are left with the point of your analysis.
If your analysis is complex, readers may benefit from a summary of the relationships you have identified.
Depending on your purpose, you may want to specify why your analysis is significant, what use the readers can make of it, or what action you hope they will take.