WHAT IS ANALYSIS?
Bloom’s Taxonomy of
Educational Objectives defines analysis as “Breaking down material into its component parts so that it may be more easily
understood.” The following “cue words” describe different aspects of analysis: examine, question, classify,
research, distinguish/differentiate, interpret, debate, defend, map, refute, relate to, infer, characterize, conclude/draw
conclusions, compare/contrast, similarities/differences (www.nwlink.com/~donclarkk/hrd/bloom.html p.2)
• Identifying evidence
that supports the main argument or illustrates the main point, as well as any that seems to contradict it.
• Deciding whether
the sources used are trustworthy.
• Identifying the writer’s
underlying assumptions about the subject as well as any biases revealed in the text. — The St. Martin’s Handbook
(3rd ed.). Andrea Lunsford and Robert Conners. St. Martin’s Press, 1995, p.10.
Guide for College Writers gives several insights:
Analyzing is done by dividing
the subject into its parts and then dealing with one part at a time (p 135).
Analysis helps readers understand
something complex; they can more readily take in the subject in a series than in one gulp. ... You might need an informational
analysis — tracing steps by which something takes place (p. 157).
Analysis is going deeply
into a subject and providing convincing evidence for
your claims (p. 153).
DIFFERENT WAYS TO ANALYZE
Adapted from The Bedford Guide for College Writers (5th ed.). X.J. Kennedy et. al.
St. Martin’s, 1999 AND An American History Primer Richard L. Mumford. Harcourt,
Brace, Jovanovich, 1990.
I. Categorize and Classify—making
sense of random information by organizing it in a rational, usable form such as chronological order, causes and effects (political,
economic, social), and underlying and immediate causes and effects (Mumford, p.37)
A. Do you use the most logical
principle to classify for your purpose?
B. Do you stick to one principle
C. Have you identified categories
or parts that are similar?
D. Have you used the best
order for your categories?
E. Have you given specific
examples for your categories (X.J. Kennedy et. al. p.
II. Explain similarities
and differences in two sets of data—comparing and contrasting
Comparisons note resemblances
between distinct and seemingly unrelated events and developments.
Contrasts note variations
between seemingly related events and developments (Mumford, p.8).
A. Have you chosen
MAJOR similarities and differences?
B. Have you used
the same categories for each tern?
C. Do you always
compare and contrast like things?
D. If you make
a judgment between your subjects, have you treated both fairly (XE Kennedy, et. al. p.418)?
III. Separate by
causes and effects (po economic, social), and underlying and immediate causes and effects (Mumford, p.37)
A. Is your use
of cause and effect clearly tied to the point you are trying to make?
B. Are the causes
you have identified real causes? Can you find evidence to support them?
C. Are the effects
you have identified real effects, or are they conjecture? Can you find evidence to support them?
D. Have you presented
things logically and clearly, so your reader can follow and understand them easily (X.E. Kennedy et. al. p. 430)?
IV. Determine the relevance of evidence—is the information
used related in an important way to the understanding of the topic or thesis (Mumford, p.24)
A. Does all your
evidence support your point of view or main idea?
B. Have you included
enough evidence to convince your reader (X.E. Kennedy, et al. p.430)?
V. Evaluate arguments
require you to evaluate the different types of support a writer uses. See sheet titled “How to Evaluate Evidence.”
VI. Analyze statistics—exactly
what do the numbers tell and NOT tell us?
See sheet titled
“How to Evaluate Evidence”.
opposing opinions — what you should do if experts disagree.
A. Try to find
the underlying reasons for the disagreement.
B. Apply the
tests for expert opinion on the “How to Evaluate Evidence” sheet
C. Give reasons
why one expert should be accepted over another OR
D. Explain why
the disagreement cannot be resolved at this time.