The analytical essay can seem a daunting writing task, especially if you have never written anything like it before.
Thankfully, it is not nearly as difficult as it may seem:
- The first step is understanding your objective. With the analytical essay, your goal is to present a claim, or an argument which your entire paper will analyze. In many cases, you might analyze a book, or a piece of writing. But in some cases you can analyze a key issue or idea within a book or a key concept inside of a broader topic. When doing any of these, you have to first break down the topic into different parts and then provide sufficient evidence for each part so that you can best support your claim. If you want to argue, for example, that one forensic anthropologist’s work on a particular Native American culture comments upon the colonizing of their lands, then you might analyze a particular publication from that forensic anthropologist, or a particular technique used to discover certain things. In either case, this would serve as your thesis statement.
- The second step is deciding what you want to write about. In most cases your teacher will provide you with the topic or a list of possible topics from which to choose. Read over your prompt carefully and focus on your argument. If you are writing about a historical event through the eyes of forensic anthropology, you want to focus on what tools or techniques or findings contributed to what historical event took place. If you want to write about a scientific finding, you should follow the scientific method in order to analyze the results. But you always can use our list of topics on forensic anthropology.
- The third step is to brainstorm. You have to make a list of what possible angles there are for your argument, and which angle you want to use. Try and list those things which you feel are important, such as repeated ideas, metaphors, or phrases. Look over how the text you are analyzing works, or how the method you are analyzing works. You can analyze a type of forensic anthropological research and if so, you should consider the different methods and results of that research, and analyze whether the experiment had the right design. Don’t forget to include only solid information that don’t cause any doubts. You may use these facts on forensic anthropology as an example.
- The fourth step is to write out your outline. Start with your thesis statement. Your claim, or argument, has to take one side. It cannot be a fact that is uncontested. You must also make sure that whatever thesis you have selected can be adequately covered in the space you have at your disposal. Do not try and write about all of the different research methods possible in only 500 words. Pick one and analyze why it is the appropriate/or not appropriate method for a particular line of research. Make a list of the key paragraphs and the evidence you will present in those paragraphs. If, for example, you have three reasons why a particular research method is not appropriate, all three should have an individual paragraph. The supporting evidence you find should come from a primary source or secondary source, such as the text you are analyzing and other journal articles. When that is all done, write out your draft, edit, and revise.
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