compare and contrast essay

compare and contrast essay

Yes, there is a great deal of instruction (“Gee, Mr. D, more stuff than I’ll ever need”); but at least you can’t say I wasn’t informative.

There are also several WORD attachments for your use, if you desire: a list of possible topics (these are suggestions only; you do not have to choose any of these), brief citation information, and a checklist to help you proofread your essay.

Here are the particulars of what your essay should include:
BTW: your discussion posting to the Evaluation discussion forum probably has most of the following determined already. Double check.
 

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    • Your essay should be approximately 750-1250 words (approx 3-5 pages), with at least 3 credible sources (if you use the library database, this makes finding credible sources easier). Generally, this means at least one credible source for each point. Of course, more sources are always better.
    • You should explain in your first par (as part of your thesis and engaging intro) whether you are evaluating or comparing/contrasting and exactly what you are evaluating, comparing, and/or contrasting.
    • Your essay should address at least 3 significant points (but no more than 5) – with at least 3 credible sources (one for each point) to prove those points.
      Note 1: you need to clearly explain why your areas are more important than other areas. You can concede that other areas are important, just not as important as the areas you chose.
      Note 2: if you use quotes, you need to (1) make sure that no more than approx 10% of your paper is quotations, (2) provide sufficient analysis for each quote to explain its relevance to the point you are using it to support, (3) cite each quote right immediately following the quote.
      Note 3: if you find facts or figures that do not support your claim, you must explain to the reader why this either does not matter, concede that these are true but less important than other things, or show that these facts or figures are not applicable to your argument.
    • Your essay should at least acknowledge the opposition. Of course, if you can rebut it, that’s even better. Keep in mind that, as I explained in class, there are many ways to rebut the opposition. You also need to keep in mind that, if you are declaring something better than something else, (1) you need to qualify what areas you are comparing, (2) you need to clearly explain (with evidence, of you can) why your areas are more important than other areas (note: you can concede that other areas are important, just not as important as the areas you chose), (3) you need to accept facts or figures that do not support your claim and explain to the reader why this either does not matter, concede that these are true but less important than other things, or show that these facts or figures are not applicable to your argument.
    • You should have a concluding paragraph that clearly summarizes your essay, references the argument presented in your thesis, and leaves the readers with something to think about, a call to action, etc.
    • You need to use MLA documentation, not APA. Refer to the attached notes and the Rules for Writers textbook chapters on evaluating sources and the chapter (MLA section) for the proper formatting of each source.
      Note: some websites have a “cite this source” areas at the end of the article; the Library database has a “cite this source” area for each source it includes. Just be sure to select MLA formatting (the default is usually APA).
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*** EXTENDED DUE DATE *** Due date: Thursday, October 14 @11:59pm

Here are the parameters for an Evaluation argument vs. a Comparison/Contrast argument…

If you write an evaluation argument, you will need to argue that something or someone does or does not meet certain criteria or standards.

You will have to determine

  • what your topic will be,
  • what category or class you believe it belongs in,
  • what criteria define this category or class,
  • whether or not your topic meets or does not meet the criteria of that category (and is thus a good or bad representation of this category) – and WHY â€“ very important: this is where your documented supporting evidence comes in,
  • and then draw a conclusion from your discussion to solidify your argument (summarize your points and reiterate your claim).

Think also in terms of what types of evidence and approach would best appeal to your audience, so that they will be engaged and understand your argument better.

If you write a comparison and/or contrast argument, you will need to argue that something is better or worse than another something. Although you would be comparing one item against another, you would still be selecting the criteria in telling your audience what you believe determines the quality or aspects to be compared. Thus, you will still have to determine

  • what your topic will be,
  • what criteria or points you wish to consider as your points of comparison,
  • which item is better in this regard than the other – and WHY â€“ very important: this is where your documented supporting evidence comes in,
  • and then draw a conclusion from your discussion to solidify your argument (summarize your points and reiterate your claim).

Why, for example, is a certain tax plan better than another? There are so many aspects to each plan that you would have to determine which aspects were most significant in determining the value of each plan (e.g., personal tax rates for individuals, medical or personal exemptions), and what quality of each aspect determines its value (e.g., one plan is more “compassionate” than the other because it exempts people below the poverty line while another does not).

Keep in mind that we compare and/or contrast things every day. Is that outfit more stylish, expensive, comfortable than another? Is that course going to help me with my major more than that other course – or teacher? Should I vote for this person or that? Do I want to go out with this person or that one? Get the idea? We are still comparing things to a set of criteria, but these criteria may be inherent in the two items or they may simply be “understood.” For example: should I vote for this person or that? Do I want to go out with this person or that one? We usually have an underlying set of criteria of what constitutes a good candidate for office or what characteristics we expect in someone we want to date.

NOTE: one very important things about comparison arguments. Don’t just say: item one does a, b, and c; and item two does x, y, and z – therefore item two is better. You must explain to the reader WHY the fact that item two does x, y, z makes it better, and WHY the reader should care. You must demonstrate a relationship between your two compared items and show why what you have determined is significant and makes a difference to the reader.

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