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Explaining Relationships Essay Outline

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To write a good essay, you firstly need to have a clear understanding of what the essay question is asking you to do. Looking at the essay question in close detail will help you to identify the topic and ‘directive words’ (Dhann, 2001), which instruct you how to answer the question. Understanding the meaning of these directive words is a vital first step in producing your essay.

This glossary provides definitions of some of the more typical words that you may come across in an essay question. Please note that these definitions are meant to provide general, rather than exact guidance, and are not a substitute for reading the question carefully. Get this wrong, and you risk the chance of writing an essay that lacks focus, or is irrelevant.

You are advised to use this glossary in conjunction with the following Study Guides: Writing essays and Thought mapping written by Student Learning Development.

Essay termDefinition
Analyse
Break an issue into its constituent parts. Look in depth at each part using supporting arguments and evidence for and against as well as how these interrelate to one another.
AssessWeigh up to what extent something is true. Persuade the reader of your argument by citing relevant research but also remember to point out any flaws and counter-arguments as well. Conclude by stating clearly how far you are in agreement with the original proposition.
ClarifyLiterally make something clearer and, where appropriate, simplify it. This could involve, for example, explaining in simpler terms a complex process or theory, or the relationship between two variables.
Comment uponPick out the main points on a subject and give your opinion, reinforcing your point of view using logic and reference to relevant evidence, including any wider reading you have done.
CompareIdentify the similarities and differences between two or more phenomena. Say if any of the shared similarities or differences are more important than others. ‘Compare’ and ‘contrast’ will often feature together in an essay question.
ConsiderSay what you think and have observed about something. Back up your comments using appropriate evidence from external sources, or your own experience. Include any views which are contrary to your own and how they relate to what you originally thought.
ContrastSimilar to compare but concentrate on the dissimilarities between two or more phenomena, or what sets them apart. Point out any differences which are particularly significant.
Critically evaluateGive your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings within a piece of research are true, or to what extent you agree with them. Provide evidence taken from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion, basing your decision on what you judge to be the most important factors and justify how you have made your choice.
DefineTo give in precise terms the meaning of something. Bring to attention any problems posed with the definition and different interpretations that may exist.
DemonstrateShow how, with examples to illustrate.
DescribeProvide a detailed explanation as to how and why something happens.
DiscussEssentially this is a written debate where you are using your skill at reasoning, backed up by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of a given context. Remember to arrive at a conclusion.
ElaborateTo give in more detail, provide more information on.
EvaluateSee the explanation for ‘critically evaluate’.
ExamineLook in close detail and establish the key facts and important issues surrounding a topic. This should be a critical evaluation and you should try and offer reasons as to why the facts and issues you have identified are the most important, as well as explain the different ways they could be construed.
ExplainClarify a topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurs, or what is meant by the use of this term in a particular context. Your writing should have clarity so that complex procedures or sequences of events can be understood, defining key terms where appropriate, and be substantiated with relevant research.
ExploreAdopt a questioning approach and consider a variety of different viewpoints. Where possible reconcile opposing views by presenting a final line of argument.
Give an account ofMeans give a detailed description of something. Not to be confused with ‘account for’ which asks you not only what, but why something happened.
IdentifyDetermine what are the key points to be addressed and implications thereof.
IllustrateA similar instruction to ‘explain’ whereby you are asked to show the workings of something, making use of definite examples and statistics if appropriate to add weight to your explanation.
InterpretDemonstrate your understanding of an issue or topic. This can be the use of particular terminology by an author, or what the findings from a piece of research suggest to you. In the latter instance, comment on any significant patterns and causal relationships.
JustifyMake a case by providing a body of evidence to support your ideas and points of view. In order to present a balanced argument, consider opinions which may run contrary to your own before stating your conclusion.
OutlineConvey the main points placing emphasis on global structures and interrelationships rather than minute detail.
ReviewLook thoroughly into a subject. This should be a critical assessment and not merely descriptive.
Show howPresent, in a logical order, and with reference to relevant evidence the stages and combination of factors that give rise to something.
StateTo specify in clear terms the key aspects pertaining to a topic without being overly descriptive. Refer to evidence and examples where appropriate.
SummariseGive a condensed version drawing out the main facts and omit superfluous information. Brief or general examples will normally suffice for this kind of answer.
To what extentEvokes a similar response to questions containing 'How far...'. This type of question calls for a thorough assessment of the evidence in presenting your argument. Explore alternative explanations where they exist.

References

Dhann, S., (2001) How to ... 'Answer assignment questions'. Accessed 12/09/11. http://www.education.ex.ac.uk/dll/studyskills/answering_questions.htm

The following resources have also been consulted in writing this guide:

Johnson, R., (1996) Essay instruction terms. Accessed 12/09/11. http://www.mantex.co.uk/samples/inst.htm

Student Study Support Unit Canterbury Christchurch College (no date) Common terms in essay questions. Accessed 22/02/08. http://www.wmin.ac.uk/page-2714

Taylor, A.M. and Turner, J., (2004) Key words used in examination questions and essay titles. Accessed 12/09/11 http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/studyadvice/StudyResources/Essays/sta-planningessay.aspx#answering

“For many phenomena, 80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes.”

Joseph M. Juran

The entire universe is connected and so are the people, events, ideas. Sometimes we are aware of these connections, but in other instances, we are not. Every cause has its consequence or results even if we don’t see it at a first glance. This is the premise behind cause and effect essays. A common assignment in high school and college, cause and effect essay urges a writer to elaborate root of the idea or problem and its larger impact. This useful guide will show you how to complete one such essay easily.

Definition

The main point of this essay is to determine how various ideas or phenomena are connected to one another. A write creates a scenario where one cause generates one or more consequences and why. The paper requires a deep understanding of the subject and focuses on explaining all the “whys” and “hows”. Contrary to the common misconception, this essay doesn’t just state a cause and result but also describes how and why it took place. Why did something happen? How did it occur?

Benefits of writing a cause and effect essay

Every essay has its purpose that goes beyond the subject. Believe it or not, essay writing is a practical and effective way of improving different skills you’ll be using throughout your life. That’s why students get these assignments in the first place. Let’s take a look at skills that you develop while working on a cause and effect essay:

  • Writing skills – of course, working on different assignments sharpens your writing skills and this essay is not an exception
  • Organizational skills – we need to be organized in every aspect of our lives in order to get something done. Cause and effect essay improves your ability to get organized. You arrange causes and effects in a way that will keep reader’s interest and avoid creating additional confusions about the subject. While researching, you can identify a multitude of causes and effects. Good organizational skills are essential to categorize them and include into your essay properly
  • Attention to details – this form of essay isn’t just about mention a cause and consequences that everyone can see, it digs deep and highlight some causal links we don’t notice easily. To do this, you need to pay attention to details. Frequent cause and effect essay writing sharpens this skill and it can only be good for you, especially in the working environment
  • Objective thinking – the goal is to report a causal link between two ideas or situations without letting your emotions interfere with the way you write. Being unbiased is a great skill to adopt as it only makes you seem more authoritative and responsible

Areas of interest

Similarly to other forms of essay writing, cause and effect paper can write about everything that’s happening in the world around us. Everything you see, read, witness, hear, or experience can be turned into a discussion and, thereby a cause and effect essay. Every action has its consequences. That means you have plenty of causes (actions) and effects (consequences) to write about. Here are common categories:

  • History
  • World events
  • Politics
  • Social issues
  • Ecology
  • Technology
  • Relationships and marriage
  • Education
  • Family
  • Health and medicine
  • Science

Cause and effect essay outline

Quality of your cause and effect essay depends on the outline you follow. You can consider outline as the spine of your essay. Just like spine supports the body, outline supports your paper and keeps you on the right track. We have a lot to say when writing an essay and it’s easy to get off the subject. The strong outline doesn’t allow that to happen. Here’s an outline of cause and effect essay:

  • Introduction – sets the tone of the essay, catches reader’s attention, and creates a sound basis for the entire paper. It provides background information that introduces the topic and finishes with a thesis statement
  • Causes/effects – the central part of the essay and one can write it in many ways. You can mention causes or effects individually or causal links (causes + effects). The approach depends on the way you organize the paper or causes and effects you wish to discuss
  • Conclusion – restates the topic and its importance summarizes causes and effects discussed and calls for action while explaining what could happen if we don’t act on the matter

Writing tips

Having to discuss some subject in a detail and mention its causes and effects may be overwhelming. Don’t worry; it’s perfectly natural to be concerned. It shows you care. Too much stress, though, is not a good thing. In order to minimize stress, you need to know all the tricks and tips that make the writing process easier, and here they are:

  • Understand cause vs. effects – it is not uncommon for students to mix them up. Cause is the catalyst or the reason behind the occurrence of some event while effect is its consequence
  • Research – regardless of the type of the paper, research is a must. Investigate the subject from different angles, think outside the box, and collect information that you’ll use later
  • Make meaningful links – you need to explain effects by making appropriate links to causes. Their relationship has to be solid and discussed thoroughly. Avoid discussing causes and effects that have a barely noticeable link
  • Quality over quantity – avoid piling causes and effects one after another. Remember, you should provide a deeper insight into their relationship and use evidence to support your claims. Quality of a cause-effect link beats quantity
  • Choose the method – you can arrange causes and effects in a chronological order, based on the importance, or categorize them. Choose the approach you find most convenient
  • Smooth transition – to avoid choppiness, use transition words that allow you to switch from one point to another seamlessly. Transition words for causes include: due to, because, first, since etc. Words for causes include: consequently, thereby, hence, therefore, thus
  • Remember the purpose – the goal of this essay is to inform the reader about causes and effects associated with some subject, it rarely (almost never) involves persuading someone to adopt your view
  • Be unbiased – you may agree or disagree with someone, like or dislike, love or hate, but you should never show it in the paper. Cause and effect essay should be unbiased or objective
  • Don’t exaggerate – for a stronger impact one might feel tempted to exaggerate the effects or causes, but you need to avoid doing that. Stick to the facts only
  • Evidence – it’s not enough to write “this cause has this effect”, you need evidence to support everything you write. Use reputable journals, publications, and other respected sources during this process

Cause and Effect Essay Topics

You get to choose your own cause and effect essay topic? That’s wonderful! In many cases lecturers allow students to write an essay based on a subject they choose for themselves. Some students spend hours thinking about topics they could discuss, but you don’t have to do that.

Good Cause and Effect Essay Topics

Here are great ideas for you:

  • Causes of voter apathy
  • What is the effect of divorce on children? Does the child’s age make any difference?
  • Effects of abortion on a relationship
  • Causes behind US poverty
  • Causes of homelessness and its effects on society
  • Effects of increasing obesity rates in the US
  • Effects of stress on health
  • What are the effects of violent video games on a child’s cognition and behavior?
  • Causes of addition to exercise and its effects
  • College dropout rates have never been higher: causes and effects
  • Reasons why online shopping makes internet users spend more money
  • Positive and negative effects of technology on our lives
  • Effects of feminism on marriage
  • Causes and effects of air pollution
  • What was the effect of colonialism on Britain’s view of itself?

Cause and Effect Essay Topics Ideas: Relationships and family

  • What causes people to cheat on each their partners.
  • Effects of living together before the marriage.
  • Long-term effects of growing up with a single parent.
  • What is the effect of family vacations on family relationships?
  • What are causes of destructive relationships between siblings?

Cause and Effect Essay Topics Ideas: Environment

  • What is the most dangerous factor that affects the world climate changes today?
  • Has human curiosity had an overall positive or negative effect on the planet?
  • What effect did human curiosity in relation to our planet?
  • What are causes of environmental catastrophes?
  • What could be the effects of global warming on the planet?

Cause and Effect Essay Topics Ideas: Social issues

  • What impact does frequent violence (either from war or street violence) have on a community?
  • What effect makes social networks on real life communications?
  • What are the causes of poverty in megalopolises?
  • How lack of freedom can effect on the society?
  • What are the effects of living in poor housing?

Cause and Effect Essay Topics Ideas: Technology

  • Effects of modern technological progress on children.
  • What impact has the internet on youth?
  • What are effects of using modern technologies during the class work?
  • How technology development affects the state of nature?
  • What are causes of technological advancements in Japan?

Cause and Effect Essay Topics Ideas: Education

  • What are causes and effects of changing a major in the middle of the studies?
  • What makes a person be an excellent student?
  • The causes and effects of an exam failure.
  • The cause and effects of cheating at the exams.
  • What are the effects of student involvement into extra-curricular activities?

Cause and Effect Essay Topics Ideas: Psychology

  • Why has depression become one of the most wide-spread illnesses?
  • What makes a person have a good mood?
  • The effects of stress on students who both study and work.
  • Why is good mental health no less important than physical well-being?
  • What are causes and effects of having an empathy?

Topic Ideas: Health

  • How does a person’s diet affect his or her health?
  • Causes and effects of vaccination in teenage age.
  • Effects of having smallpox in adult age.
  • What are causes of long-term smoking?
  • What are the causes and effect of insomnia during exam week?

Topic Ideas: Food

  • Cause and effects of eating seafood.
  • Effects of eating only vegetarian food.
  • Why is it dangerous to eat in cheap fast food restaurants?
  • Effects of eating genetically modified foods.
  • What are the typical causes of loss of appetite?

Topic Ideas: Sport

  • How regular workout improves the productivity of a person?
  • Causes and effects of skipping physical education lessons in school.
  • What are effects of doing sports professionally?
  • Causes and effects of sports violence.
  • What effect does doing extreme sports have?

Topic Ideas: Culture

  • What is the reason of popularity of movies based on comic books?
  • How listening to favorite music affect the person?
  • Why are summer music festivals so popular among youth?
  • How free music downloading effects the artist
  • What are long-term effects of video games playing addiction?

Essay help

The cause and effect essay writing doesn’t have to turn into a major struggle. You have the opportunity to make this process easy. How? It’s simple; thanks to the amazing breakthrough of technology and easy internet availability, students have access to multiple platforms and tools that simplify essay writing. Here are a few examples.

Essay topic generator

Instead of browsing Google and spending hours trying to come up with a cause and effect essay topic, you can just use Edusson Magic Help. The platform displays a multitude of topic ideas you can use to practice or write your own essay. Search by alphabet, category, most popular topics, or simply enter a keyword and you’ll see an abundance of titles that will inspire you.

Essay examples

Use Edusson Magic Help essay samples to see how other students wrote their own cause and effect essays. This will inspire you to write your own, recognize strengths and weaknesses, and avoid common pitfalls. With a prescription plan, you can also save some essays in the library and read them later.

Essay checker

Essay checker called RobotDon is a highly practical platform and the best tool a student can use when writing an essay. The software utilizes cutting-edge algorithms to analyze uniqueness and check for plagiarism. In addition, it checks sentence structure, rhythm, readability, word use, and overall quality of your paper.

Essay writing service

Professional writing service gathers an amazing team of writers who can create cause and effect essay based on your needs, deadline, word count, and other info you provide. The essay is written from scratch and made to reflect your own position on the subject.

Essay editing service

For students who just need someone to go through an essay and correct mistakes, the editing service at Edusson is the best solution. Editors and proofreaders read and correct spelling and grammar mistakes, improve your style and formatting, and enhance the overall quality of the paper

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