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How to write a comparative essay: Strategies and guidelines

on 28/12/2014

A comparative paper is one of the most frequently assigned writings throughout the academic process. Here your task is to compare two personalities, things, concepts, theories, processes, events, and so on. Although it is not the most difficult assignment this type of work requires good analysis and critical skills. We have prepared some strategies for writing and guidelines for the comparative essay structure. Here are some elements essential for the process of completion the comparative essay.

  • How to organize the comparative essay?

-          Many writing guides online say that the structure of the contrast and compare essay can be the following: First you state the similarities between the objects and, secondly, the difficulties, after this the conclusion summarizes your points. However, in our opinion, this method of writing is a bit simplistic as it reveals only the observation skills of the writer.

-          What you need is to express the ability to analyze and synthesize, which is why it is a good idea to take the raw data from your observation and build reasonable arguments upon it.

  • Setting the context

-          You should select the context or the categories, basing on which you will conduct your comparison.

-          This part is also called “a frame of reference” and means the topic, question, theory, or idea that serve as a ground for contrasting.

-          In order to provide a proper context of the comparison you should address some authoritative sources and include their view on the issue.

  • Reasons for comparison.

-          When you choose two particular objects to be contrasted you must motivate the choice.

-          Let the reader understand why your choice is meaningful and not random.

  • Creating a strong thesis statement

-          The main purpose of the thesis statement is to claim how two things you are going to compare relate to each other.

-          Indicate if your comparing objects are debating, opposing, correcting, complicating or extending one another.

-          Remember that the relationship is a core of any comparative paper.

  • Structuring the paper

-          there are two options of how your comparative essay can be organized:

text-by-text organization – first, you tell about all the points of one subject and, secondly, all points of another.

point-by-point – comparing each point of the first and the second subjects.

-          in case you have two things and one of them extends the another one it is better to use text-by-text structure.

-          If your compared subjects are debating use the point-by-point scheme as it will allow you to focus the reader’s attention.

-          Do not dedicate the same amount of time to each similarity or difference. Remember that mainly, you should concentrate on the most essential spots. For example, if you compare two theories it might be more important how they are distinguished while similarities may serve just as a background.

  • Connecting contrasted points with the thesis.

-          Remember that each of your points should correspond to the thesis statement. You are developing different aspects but still they must stay in the frame of reference.

-          Apart from linking the thesis and arguments you should use transitions in order to make your paper flow logically.

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