How do I add more analysis to my paper?

One of the most common pieces of feedback that my students get from their teachers is that they need to add more analysis to their papers. But how can you tell if your paper is analytical enough? In this post, we’ll look at how you can revise your paper to add more analysis to your thesis statement, topic sentences, and body paragraphs.

How to add analysis to your thesis statement & topic sentences

The most important places to add analysis to your paper are your thesis statement and topic sentences. Each of these sentences should make a succinct and compelling argument that you will defend in the body of the paper. When you’re checking to see if your thesis or topic sentences are analytical enough, ask yourself: could a reasonable person disagree with what you are saying? If the answer is no, then you haven’t made an argument. Look at the difference between these two topic sentences:

Protests against the Vietnam War played a significant role in convincing the government to end the war in 1975.

On November 15, 1969, half a million people gathered in Washington, D.C., to protest the Vietnam War—the largest antiwar protest to date.

The first sentence is an argument. Reasonable people could disagree about which factors brought an end to the Vietnam War. (In fact, given that the largest protest against the war took place six years before it ended, there is a good case to be made that protesting, though significant, alone did not end the war.) The second sentence is a statement of fact. No reasonable person could disagree that half a million people gathered in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 1969 to protest the Vietnam War. This is an historical fact, not an argument.

How to add analysis to your body paragraphs

After you’ve made your thesis statement and topic sentences more analytical, it’s time to work on adding analysis to your body paragraphs. Start with any quotes that you’ve included; this is a great place to add analysis. Why did you decide to include this quote? Is there any language that you find especially striking or that really proves the point you’re trying to make? If so, write about it! Rather than just listing all of your evidence, take the time to explain why you selected this evidence and why you think it is significant to your overall argument.  

Facts vs. Arguments

As a final way to check on how analytical your paper is, print your essay out and grab two different colored highlighters: one for analytical sentences, one for fact-based sentences. Read your entire essay and highlight each sentence that is analytical in one color and each sentence that is fact-based in another color. This will help you to determine whether you have a good balance of analytical and evidence-based sentences throughout your essay, including within each body paragraph. There’s no formula for the right balance, so check in with your teacher, tutor, or another trusted reader to see how you’re doing. Over time, you’ll develop an instinct for the best balance between facts and analysis.