Analysis, the basis of many other strategies, is the process of breaking something into its parts and putting the parts back together so that you can better understand the whole.
When you focus on understanding something better by comparing and contrasting it to something else, you identify and analyze the similarities and differences. As you discuss these in your writing, keep your working thesis with its controlling idea in mind. Let your thesis guide what details you select to establish your criteria for comparison. Your overall purpose in writing this kind of analysiscomparing and contrastingalways guides what you write.
When you seek to explain the causes and effects of an action, event, or situation, you are trying to identify their origins and understand their results. You may discover a chain of events that explain the causes and effects. How you decide where the boundaries of causal analysis are depends on your thesis and your purpose for writing.
Example of Writing Using Analysis
Critical thinking has been defined in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. In a narrow sense, it means using the strategies of informal logic to analyze and evaluate arguments, expose logical fallacies, and form your own logical arguments that will hold up under scrutiny of another critical thinker . . . But in a wider sense, critical thinking can mean any thinking that is assessed by criteria intended to result in good thinking. Thinking can be shallow, poor, one-sided, self-deceiving, and ego-protecting. Critical thinking means examining your own and others' thinking to be sure that it is good thinking. (University of Maryland University College, 1996, pp. 14)