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Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing and Assessing an Analysis

Analysis: Noun.:Inflected forms: pl. a·nal·y·ses.

1a. The separation of an intellectual or material whole into its constituent parts for individual study. b. The study of such constituent parts and their interrelationships in making up a whole. c. A spoken or written presentation of such study: published an analysis of poetic meter.

Etymology: Medieval Latin, from Greek analusis, a dissolving, from analein, to undo : ana-, throughout; see ana– + lein, to loosen; see leu- in Appendix I.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
: Fourth Edition.2000.

Analytical Thesis Statements

In an analytical paper, you are breaking down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluating the issue or idea, and presenting this breakdown and evaluation to your audience. An analytical thesis statement will explain:

  • what you are analyzing
  • the parts of your analysis
  • the order in which you will be presenting your analysis

Example: An analysis of barn owl flight behavior reveals two kinds of flight patterns: patterns related to hunting prey and patterns related to courtship.
A reader who encountered that thesis in a paper would expect an explanation of the analysis of barn owl flight behavior, and then an explanation of the two kinds of flight patterns.
Questions to ask yourself when writing an analytical thesis statement:

  • What did I analyze?
  • What did I discover in my analysis?
  • How can I categorize my discoveries?
  • In what order should I present my discoveries?

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The difference between summary and analysis: When you summarize, you essentially report about the contents of a text. But when you analyze a text, or data, or problem, you ask questions about it so that you can offer an interpretation of the text.

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Peer Review Questionnaire

Read your partner’s essay once through, without making any comments. Next, re-read the essay, with the following questions in mind, perhaps making notes on the paper to mark passages you will want to comment on. Once you’ve read the essay a second time, respond to the following questions, being as specific as possible.

1. Introduction: Does the introduction contain a thesis statement in which the writer indicates: what he/she is analyzing, the parts of his/her analysis, and the order in which he/she will be presenting his/her analysis?

2. Analysis: What are the components of the problem or issue? Has the writer addressed them in an orderly and logical progression? If not, what would you suggest as a better order?

3. Interpretation/Conclusion: Does the writer clearly present his/her interpretation of the components? Does he/she offer evidence for the interpretation? Is the evidence convincing, or does it need to be further discussed or supported?

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