Chapter 27. ANALYSIS
chapter has FIVE
web pages--be sure to also
in this chapter.
You may go to
them by clicking
on the links
or in the right
This introductory page of the
"Analysis" chapter offers a simple, brief summary. For more, go to "Basics" and
to "Sample Papers"
by students. If
you understand this type of paper already or want to explore it more, you might prefer to read "Advanced
Methods." All five web pages of this chapter are listed at the top of
this page--and also in the
right-hand column. Simply click on one of the five pages.
The word analysis usually implies
least two elements: (a) a breakdown of something into parts or ideas, and (b) a
discussion or description of those parts using a point of view or a method. If,
for example, you were asked to analyze the text of a reading, you would choose several main
or important ideas from it, then discuss each in turn using some kind of special
point of view, theory, or method. An analysis in its purest form differs from
other types of writing in that its primary concern simply is to explain
something in greater or newer detail using a unique point of view, whereas the
main purposes of many kinds of papers may be to argue or to evaluate. In fact,
some assignments may require you to use analysis to argue a point or to evaluate
something. However, if you are required to do nothing but a simple analysis,
then your primary goal is to explain something from a unique point of view.
It may be useful to think of an analysis as
helping someone younger or less experienced than you order from a menu at your
favorite restaurant. If you are being thoughtful, first you will choose the
viewpoint of the other person: e.g., an eight-year-old’s view of the food, a
vegetarian’s view of it, or perhaps the viewpoint of someone who has never
eaten in this kind of restaurant. Then you might explain the basic organization
of the menu or simply dive in and explain in more detail the kinds of foods you
think the person might find most interesting.
One famous example of an analysis is Lincoln’s
Gettysburg Address: it is his analysis of a current situation, using a
particular view—idealistic and hopeful—of history. Another example is an
analysis of someone who has been interviewed for a job at your place of work: a
written or oral description—from the viewpoint of what your place of work
wants—of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. A third example is Dr.
Seuss’s ABC Book, a playful analysis from a child’s point of view (and from
Seuss’s own unique artistic viewpoint) of the sounds and uses of the ABCs.
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The goal of writing an analysis is to read an
argumentative essay that you can understand easily and then to analyze its parts
step by step, using one or more differing viewpoints or theories. At a
beginning level, you can accomplish this by analyzing the text's ideas by
using the three differing viewpoints of three very different people.
For example, if
the essay argues that war is good, you might analyze the essay's contents from
the viewpoints of an older conservative politician, an eighteen-year-old draft
dodger, and a liberal religious leader. At a more advanced level, usually
an analysis examines a text using one to three particular theories that you
have studied. For example, you might be asked in a philosophy class to
examine a text or concept using the belief systems of Plato, Aristotle,
and/or St. Augustine.
If you need an online text, go to the chapter in
"Section D" called "Resources & Readings." If your instructor requests it, you may
have a brief first section, after the introduction, that summarizes the text. Then you should write the body of your analysis by
analyzing several of your text's points or ideas. Depending on what your
instructor expects, you may organize your paper in three or four topic sections
or as several point-by-point discussions. In the beginning of each topic
section or point, first offer a sentence summarizing the overall subject of the
entire section, and explain it briefly, if necessary. Then support your
analytical statements with quotations from your text/source and other details.
Your other details may include one or more of the following: personal-experience
examples and stories; the experiences of others you know; and facts, details,
and/or experiences from documented sources. In
your introduction and conclusion, clearly indicate the type of paper you are
writing (an analysis), your overall analytical method, and
interesting quotations, stories, and/or facts from the text of your reading itself.
If you are writing a research paper, each body section must include quotations
and/or paraphrases from additional sources. These quotations and/or
paraphrases should support your own points of analysis, should be
substantial in quality and quantity, and should come from authoritative sources.
Also attach a bibliography appropriate to your field, discipline, or profession.
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Here is a typical structure or organization for an analysis. More
development of this structure is shown in the "Basics"
Organization of an Analysis Paper
READING, MAIN THEORY OR THEORIES, and introductory details
Body Section 1:
First analysis and supporting details
Body Section 2:
Body Section 3:
(Optional Body Section 4:
READING, MAIN THEORY OR THEORIES, and concluding details
Jones, A.J. Book One, et al.
Smith, B.K. Book Two, et al.
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A "focus" in writing helps you at any given moment
to concentrate on writing. Here are several helpful, important focuses
people use to develop a disagreement.
If helpful, brainstorm a list of texts you would like to use or, once
you have one, a list of possible points you could analyze. You may
also want to brainstorm a list of analytical points (theories, points from
theories, or people's viewpoints) that you could use. Then choose
from your list(s) carefully; if you have two lists, compare them to match
points in the text with analytical viewpoints. Have you chosen
points that interest you? Do you have enough details or examples to support what you are
saying, or can you find them
easily? Can you write about them objectively? What is
the main problem and solution your paper or its sections will represent? Will your
audience find your analyses clear and interesting?
& SECOND DRAFTS:
Start with one or two methods that work best for you, but develop the
others in later drafts.
critically: take your text apart so that you understand its
contents and structure thoroughly (see "How
to Read Critically").
Free-write: write as much as you can
quickly on what you know about your text or your analytical viewpoint(s).
mark or type the quotations in your text that best summarize the
points which you can analyze. Write descriptions or a
list of the details you have to support your points--facts, quotations, and/or
Write for your audience: visualize it. What details does it need to take seriously your analyses?
Organize: make an outline using the structure
above or whatever structure your instructor suggests.
if required, mix
your analyses with the above methods to develop a first draft during your
TONE, and WRITER'S ROLE: Develop (in early or late drafts) an
academic style and tone of calm, reasoned, fair, balanced logic. In
your role as a writer, you should remain a neutral observer, simply
applying the analyses in a balanced, logical, consistent manner.
AUTHENTICITY: Be as real and
you can to your audience, your content, and yourself. First, respect
your audience: try as fully as you can to consider its own beliefs about
your text. Second, find the heart of the meaning
in both your text and your analysis of it, and write about them clearly
using high-quality supporting details. Third, make your analyses your own: develop them in a way as meaningful to you as possible.
Also see Analyzing
Readings Using the [Rhetorical] Modes.
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