How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay in Criminal Justice

Writing guide
Posted on April 23, 2020

Throughout their college career, students have to complete different types of academic assignments, each with its own requirements. One of the most common types is the compare and contrast essay in which you have to analyze how certain things are similar or different. Looking for tips on how to write a compare and contrast essay in criminal justice? Read this easy guide where you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to organize the writing process from choosing a topic to generating a thesis to editing and proofreading the final draft. We’ll also provide you with 15 impressive compare and contrast essay topics which you can use for writing papers in criminal justice. If you need advice on how to cope with other types of academic papers, check other articles on our website. Here we have full guides to all writing assignments out where you’ll find detailed but simple instructions that can help you cope with any college project.

What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay in Criminal Justice?

The purpose of writing a compare and contrast essay in criminal justice is to analyze two or more subjects and discuss their similarities or differences. That’s why it’s important to choose subjects that are related in a meaningful way. First, you should find a basis of comparison. It’s important to be sure that that ideas or concepts have enough in common so it makes sense to write about them. For example, you may analyze systems of criminal justice in different countries, two types of crime or different criminal justice theories and explain how they are similar and how they differ.

Compare and contrast essays follow specific patterns. First, you should focus on comparison of certain concepts, ideas, methods, processes or theories and speak about their similarities. Then you should contrast your subjects and explain how they differ. Keep in mind that it’s important to use clear and relevant criteria when you make comparisons or contrasts. It means that you should determine which characteristics of your subjects are worth comparing and contrasting.

You can organize your ideas in a compare and contrast essay using two types of structure.

  • For the block (or subject-by-subject) structure, you have to present all the information about one subject and then list all the information about the other subject.
  • For the point-by-point (or alternating) structure, you need to speak about each similarity (or difference) of one subject and then immediately present the similarity (or difference) for the other subject.

Both structures have their own advantages. The block structure is easier but the point-by-point structure is more explicit. You can also combine both methods in a single essay.
When you analyze relationships between two subjects, you should use compare and contrast structure words and phrases which will serve as transition signals for your readers and can help them understand your analysis.

  • When speaking about similarities you can use such words and phrases: in a similar fashion, similarly, likewise, like, both, similar to, just like, neither … nor, not only … but also, also, in common, the same as, in addition, as well as.
  • When explaining differences between two subjects, you can use the following words and phrases: whereas, while, unlike, in contrast, however, but, on the other hand, although, in comparison, contrary to, yet, to be different (from), to differ from, even though, besides.

You should use a variety of compare and contrast words through your essay.

Choosing a Good Topic for a Compare and Contrast Essay in Criminal Justice

When selecting a topic, you should consider subjects that are relevant to the content of the course you are taking. Besides, you should consider the length of your compare and contrast essay in criminal justice. Make sure that your topic is broad enough for the required word count and that you will be able to find enough information for your paper. It’s better to choose subjects that have unexpected or unusual differences and similarities.

If you have no idea of what to write about and are looking for inspiration, here are some interesting ideas for writing compare and contrast essays in criminal justice.

  • Are Sex Trafficking and Prostitution the Same Thing?
  • Is Life Imprisonment a Better Option Than a Death Penalty?
  • Is There a Difference between Domestic Violence and Domestic Abuse?
  • What Is the Difference between Terrorism and Organized Crime?
  • Discuss Differences between Women and Men as Perpetrators and Victims of Crime;
  • Biological Theories of Crime vs. Psychological Theories of Crime;
  • Compare the System of Juvenile Justice in the USA and in European Countries;
  • What Is the Difference between Cybercrime and Traditional Crime?
  • Compare and Contrast Prison Systems in the USA and Canada;
  • Compare and Contrast Environmental and Social Approaches to Crime Prevention;
  • What Is the Difference between Shoplifting and Theft?
  • Compare and Contrast Different Methods of Experimental Criminology;
  • Murder vs. Assassination. What is the Difference?
  • Compare and Contrast Elder Abuse and Child Abuse;
  • Compare and Contrast Restorative Justice Theory and Retributive Justice Theory

Create an Outline for Your Compare and Contrast Essay

When you have picked a topic, you should use brainstorming techniques like mind-mapping or creating a Venn diagram to identify similarities and differences between two ideas. Write down all points of comparison and contrast what you can think about. Then choose some points that you can discuss in your body paragraphs and do a research to find additional information for your argument. As you read, make notes of all interesting ideas that you can use in your essay and find convincing evidence and examples for supporting the points you are going to make. List all information about your sources as well – you will need it for citing your sources and creating a references list to avoid plagiarism.

Create a list of similarities and differences for your subjects and make a basic outline for your essay. You should use a traditional structure common for all types of academic essays. Your paper should include such parts as an engaging introduction, body paragraphs where you compare and contrast certain features, and a convincing conclusion that summarizes all your points.
An outline is an important part of the writing process. It will help you organize your thoughts and will save you a lot of time when you actually start writing and editing your essay’s draft. That’s why you should never skip over this necessary step.

Write an Introduction

An introduction has to provide a context and introduce your topic. You should tell your readers about what you are going to write about and briefly outline the points your essay will be focused on. It’s critical to write a strong introduction that grabs your audience’s attention. A good idea is to start your compare and contrast essay with a provocative or rhetorical question, an interesting relevant quote or a surprising fact to engage your readers from the very beginning. Introduce your subjects and then provide background information on your topic. You should also include 2 or 3 sentences that will serve as transitions to your thesis statement.

Finish your introduction with a strong thesis statement which determines on what details your compare and contrast essay will be focused on. For example, if the purpose of your essay is to compare and contrast organized crime and terrorism, your thesis statement may look like this one:

Terrorism and organized crime are different types of organized criminal behavior. Both of them involve violence but while the objective of organized crime is profit, terrorism always has a political objective.

Write Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs make the most of any essay. The body of your compare and contrast essay should focus on key similarities and differences between the subjects. You may focus each body paragraph on a specific point or choose a different structure and focus your paragraphs subject by subject. Each paragraph should discuss only one major point which should be connected with an overall focus of your essay that you expressed in the thesis statement.

You should structure your body paragraphs in the following way:

  • Start each paragraph with a transition sentence that leads from the previous paragraph to help readers follow your logic.
  • Write a topic sentence that summarizes the controlling idea of the paragraph in the same way as a thesis summarizes the entire essay.
  • Include several sentences that support your major point with explanations, evidence, and examples to provide a deeper level of detail.
  • Analyze and interpret your evidence and examples and explain how they support the controlling idea and the thesis statement.
  • End each paragraph with a concluding sentence that summarizes the information and includes a transition to the next paragraph.

Remember that body paragraphs don’t exist in isolation so you have to use transition words and phrases that show connections between them to help your readers understand how all your ideas fit together.

Write a Conclusion

The goal of a concluding paragraph is to summarize your main points and reinforce the thesis statement. Here are some tips on how you can do it right.

  • Make your conclusion short and try to make the final powerful impression on your audience to help them understand that you have told them something interesting on your topic.
  • Re-state your thesis but avoid repeating it using the exact words as in your introduction. Instead, you should paraphrase your thesis and emphasize the main point of your compare and contrast essay. Try to give a fresh and deeper perspective.
  • You can also express your personal opinion about the thesis but it should be based on the evidence that you have already discussed. Don’t include any new ideas or facts in the concluding part of your paper.
  • Demonstrate the significance of your findings by answering the ‘So what?’ question and end your compare and contrast essay in criminal justice on a positive note.

Edit and Proofread Your Compare and Contrast Essay in Criminal Justice

When you finish writing your first draft, you be ready to revise and rewrite it more than once. You will need to repeat revisions until you are completely satisfied with the content, logical flow, sentence structure, and word choice.

During editing process, you should look at the flow of your sentences and their structure and think how each of them fits within a paragraph. You should make the necessary changes to ensure that the point of the paragraph is clear. You may need to eliminate repetitions and improve the words choice by using synonyms ensure that you use the precise words.
The next stage is proofreading of the final draft. You should look for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors and typos and fix them. Besides, you should check your citations to ensure that there are no inconsistencies in the citation style you use.

You should edit and proofread your compare and contrast essay in criminal justice carefully and thoroughly. Here are some effective editing and proofreading strategies that you can use.

  • Print a copy of your essay for editing and proofreading. It’s much easier to notice mistake if you work with a text printed on paper.
  • Read your essay aloud to yourself. Using this method, you can catch different types of grammar and spelling errors and notice awkwardness in the organization of your paper and sentence structure.
  • Try to read your essay backwards. In this way, you will be able to avoid being distracted by the ideas and focus on the text. You can read your paper paragraph by paragraph or sentence after sentence. This approach is especially useful when you need to catch errors in sentence structure, for example, sentence fragments.
  • Ask your friends and family members to read your essay. They will look at it with fresh eyes and may catch errors that you have overlooked.

A well-written compare and contrast essay in criminal justice will demonstrate your instructor that you have a good understanding of your paper’s subjects and can use your analytical and critical thinking skills to identify differences between them. Follow our simple step-by-step instructions and it will be much easier for you to organize your work and successfully cope with such a challenging assignment.

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