explaining causes and effects 1

In a well-developed and carefully constructed essay of four to five pages (in MLA format),
you will explain the causes and/or effects of a particular phenomenon or situation. To do so, you
must first pick a phenomenon or situation that you have observed and are curious as to what the cause or
lasting effect could be. The phenomenon or situation you choose may have affected you and people you
know well, or it might have affected people in your city, region, or even the world. This could be anything
from global warming to how people drive to the success of your favorite band. Your situation can be
anything—just make sure it is something in which you are interested. Don’t think you must choose an
earthshaking topic to write a good paper. On the contrary, you will do a better job if you are personally
familiar with the situation you choose.

Topic: Phones

After deciding your topic, you will decide what approach you will take: limit your essay to either
the causes or the effects, or include both but focus on one more than the other. In your Bedford Guide on
page 142 to 143, Yun Yung Choi uses the last approach when she identifies the cause of the status of
Korean women (Confucianism) but spends most of her essay detailing effects of this cause. When you
explore a given phenomenon, devoting equal space to all possible causes and effects will either
overwhelm your readers or put them to sleep. Instead, you need to decide what you want to show your
readers, and then emphasize the causal relationships that help achieve this purpose. Rely on your purpose
to help you decide which part of the relationship—cause or effect— to stress and how to limit your ideas
to strengthen your overall point. Resist the temptation to discuss all the possible causes and then analyze
all the effects it has had on you or others. Your readers won’t want to know about every single
complication. So, make some decisions about your focus:
• Do you want to concentrate on causes or effects?
• Which of your explanations are most and least compelling?
• How can you emphasize the points that are most important to you?
• Which relatively insignificant or irrelevant ideas can you omit?
Next, you will need to conduct research on the aspect you choose to focus on most. You will need one to
two sources for this essay to support your claims. Once you have done your research, you will be ready
to draft your essay.

You will be writing this essay for your peers. Consider what you believe they would know about
your topic and what they have yet to know about your topic.

A successful essay will:
✔Be four to five pages in length
✔Have a clear, well-developed, thought-provoking thesis
✔Be clear as to what the main focus of the paper is (causes or effects)
✔Demonstrate thoughtful consideration on the causes and effects
✔Be organized logically and coherently
✔Avoid using “you”
✔Demonstrate smooth transitions between paragraphs
✔Use properly cited textual evidence to back-up or demonstrate your ideas
✔Contain a Works Cited Page
✔Be relatively free of mechanical and grammatical errors
✔Conform to MLA guidelines

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