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Academic writing

In academia, writing and publishing is conducted in several sets of forms and genres. This is a list of genres of academic writing. It is a short summary of the full spectrum of critical & academic writing. It does not cover the variety of critical approaches that can be applied when writing about a subject.

Writing in these forms or styles is usually serious, intended for a critical and informed audience, based on closely-investigated knowledge, and posits ideas or arguments. It usually circulates within the academic world ('the academy'), but the academic writer may also find an audience outside via journalism, speeches, pamphlets, etc.

Typically scholarly writing has an objective stance, clearly states the significance of the topic, and is organized with adequate detail so that other scholars could try to reproduce the results. Strong papers are not overly general and correctly utilize formal academic rhetoric.

Academic document types

For students

  • Exam questions & Essay titles; the formulating of these.
  • Instructional pamphlet, or hand-out, or reading list; usually meant for students.
  • Presentations; usually short, often illustrated.

Summaries of knowledge

  • Annotatedbibliography.
  • Annotated catalogue, often of an individual or group's papers and/or library.
  • Creating a simplified graphical representation of knowledge; e.g. a map, or refining a display generated from a database. There will often be a 'key' or written work incorporated with the final work.
  • Creating a timeline or chronological plan. There will often be a 'key' or written work incorporated with the final work.
  • Devising a classification scheme; e.g. for animals, or newly arisen sub-cultures, or a radically new style of design.
  • Encyclopedia entry.
  • Journalarticle (e.g. History Today); usually presenting a digest of recent research.
  • Literature review; a summary and careful comparison of previous academic work published on a specific topic.
  • Site description and plan (e.g. in archeology).

Collating the work of others

  • Anthology; collection, collation, ordering and editing of the work of others.
  • Catalogue raisonné; the definitive collection of the work of a single artist, in book form.
  • Collected works; often referred to as the 'critical edition'. The definitive collection of the work of a single writer or poet, in book form, carefully purged of publishers errors and later forgeries, etc.
  • Monograph or exhibition catalog; usually containing exemplary works, and a scholarly essay. Sometime contains new work by a creative writer, responding to the work.
  • Transcribing, selecting and ordering oral testimony (e.g. oral history recordings).

Research & planning

Disseminating knowledge outside the academy

  • call for papers.
  • Documentaryfilm script or TV script or radio script.
  • Obituary.
  • argument, in which the speaker uses words to convince the reader of a writer’s view(s) regarding an issue. Persuasive writing involves convincing the reader to perform an action, or it may simply consist of an argument(s) convincing the reader of the writer’s point of view. Persuasive writing is one of the most used writing types in the world. Persuasive writers employ many techniques to improve their argument and show support for their claim. Another definition is "an essay that offers and supports an opinion".

    Early rhetoric and persuasive writing

    Early rhetoricians dealt with persuasive writing and oration. Cicero most notably defined persuasive writing as the grand style in his work Orator.

    Cicero stated, “This eloquence has power to sway man’s mind and move them in every possible way�.

    He also stated, however, that the most effective orator, or in this case, writer, uses a combination of the plain, middle, and this grand style to suit the context.

    Ethos, logos, and pathos in persuasive writing

    By appealing to credibility, writers can make their claims more believable. This is called an appeal to ethos, as defined by Aristotle. The writer builds on his or her ethos by writing with clarity (an important element of style) and eliminating contradictions within the text itself. The writer will be more credible to the target audience if there are no internal errors in syntax and mechanics as well as no factual errors in the subject matter.

    Writers can appeal to logic when writing to persuade using the appeal known as logos. This appeal is manifested in the supporting statements for the writer’s claim. In most cases, a successful appeal to logos requires tangible evidence, e.g., a quote from acknowledged written material. The writer will appeal to the rationality of the audience.

    Possibly the most important appeal for persuasive writers is the appeal to emotions or pathos. “A successful pathetic appeal will put the audience in a suitable mood by addressing their knowledge of or feelings about the subject� (Mendelson). This can be a very effective way to win over an audience!

    Most persuasive writing techniques use an effective combination of all three appeals.

    Traditional structure

    Here are the traditional parts of persuasive writing that can be used to strengthen an argument. While these do not have to be followed exactly or in this order, they are helpful in forming the structure in persuasive writing.

    • Exordium, or introduction
    • Narration, or background statement of the facts
    • Partition, or forecast of the topics to be presented
    • Conformation, or the confirmation of the piece. In contemporary English classes, this would be called the body of the text.
    • Refutation, or discussion of alternatives
    • Peroration, or a conclusion. It’s often helpful to tie the conclusion back to the introduction in order to strengthen your claim.

    You attitude

    "You attitude" is a technique in persuasive writing. especially in business writing, which produces goodwill and influences people favourably. It emphasises the reader's interest. It is an attitude of mind involving developing the view on a topic from the reader's point of view ('you') instead of the writer's ('me').

    To use 'You attitude' in persuasive writing, the author should focus on what they want the reader to perceive from their content, minimise their own feelings, refer to the readers' requests, and use active voice.

Writing style

Writing style is the manner in which a writer chooses among different strategies to address an issue and an audience. A style reveals the writer's personality or voice, but it also shows how she or he sees the audience of the writing. The writing style reveals the choices the writer makes in syntactical structures, diction, and figures of thought. Similar questions of style exist in the choices of expressive possibilities in speech.

Constraints on style


The position of a writer and his or her concept of the audience impose style constraints on the writing style. Scholarly writing, for example, usually avoids figures of speech and prefers precise descriptions to colloquial terms that might be found more often in more familiar forms of writing, such as text messages or personal blogs. News reporting requires precise words, even if colloquial, and shorter sentences, to be easy to read by a general audience. Fiction writing, in contrast, is designed to entertain and arouse the reader and is improved by the judicious use of figures of speech. A judge's verdict needs to explain how the verdict corresponds to other rulings, but often uses literary devices to persuade the reader of its correctness.

A writer can combine personal style with the expectations of the audience, but many choices may be too personal. A scientific paper with excessive personal style may make the reader question its seriousness; a news article with excessive personal style may make the reader doubt the author's neutrality. Fiction written in the customary style of a scientific paper would not keep the reader interested. Notes in class, text messages and personal blogs are better occasions for personal and more familiar choices in style.

Situation and purpose

The writer needs to tailor style to the situation. For example, the same person writing a letter to the same reader would use a different style depending on whether it is a letter of complaint, a letter of condolence, or a business letter. The author needs to decide whether the goal of the writing is to inform, persuade, or entertain.

Stylistic choices

Sentence forms

A writer controls not only the density of prose but its distribution. Within the rules of grammar, the writer can arrange words in many ways. A sentence may state the main proposition first and then modify it; or it may contain language to prepare the reader before stating the main proposition.

Varying the style may avoid monotony. However, in technical writing, using different styles to make two similar utterances makes the reader ask whether the use of different styles was intended to carry additional meaning.

Stylistic choices may be influenced by the culture. In the modern age, for instance, the loose sentence has been favored in all modes of discourse. In classical times, the periodic sentence held equal or greater favor, and during the Age of Enlightenment, the balanced sentence was a favorite of writers.

The loose sentence

The most common sentence in modern usage, the loose sentence begins with the main point (an independent clause), followed by one or more subordinate clauses. For example:

Uncle Tom's Cabin is a very influential novel, having its self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality, much in common with Little Women'.

The cat sat on the mat, purring softly, having licked his paws.

According to Francis Christensen:

The loose sentence ... characterized the anti-Ciceronian movement in the seventeenth century. This movement, according to Morris W. Croll [“The Baroque Style in Prose,� (1929)] began with Montaigne and Bacon and continued with such men as Donne, Browne, Taylor, Pascal. To Montaigne, its art was the art of being natural; to Pascal, its eloquence was the eloquence that mocks formal eloquence; to Bacon, it presented knowledge so that it could be examined, not so that it must be accepted. (in Winterowd, 'Contemporary Rhetoric: A Conceptual Background with Readings,' p.348)

The periodic sentence

In contrast, a periodic sentence places the main point in the middle or at the end of the sentence. In the former case, the main point is modified by subordinate clauses before and after its position in the sentence. In the latter case, the main point is modified by preceding subordinate clauses.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. (Henry David Thoreau)

The purpose of such form is well-stated by Adams Sherman Hill in The Foundation of Rhetoric (1897):

To secure force in a sentence, it is necessary not only to choose the strongest words and to be as concise as is consistent with clearness, but also to arrange words, phrases, and clauses in the order which gives a commanding position to what is most important, and thus fixes the attention on the central idea.

The balanced sentence

A balanced sentence is characterized by parallel structure, two or more parts of the sentence have the same form, emphasizing similarities or differences.


Depending on the mode in which the writer is writing, diction can also pertain to the writer's style. Argumentative and expository prose on a particular subject matter frequently makes use of a set of jargon in which the subject matter is commonly discussed. By contrast, narrative and descriptive prose is open to the vast variety of words. Insofar as a style of diction can be discerned, however, it is best to examine the diction against a number of spectrums:

  • Abstract-concrete: how much of the diction is physical?
  • General-specific: to what degree is the diction precise, to what degree is it vague?
  • Denotation-connotation
  • Literal-metaphorical

Other attributes of diction include:

  • Density
  • Length


The connotation of a word refers to the special meaning , apart from its dictionary definition, that it may convey. Connotation especially depends on the audience. The word "dog" denotes any animal from the genus canis, but it may connote friendship to one reader and terror to another. This partly depends on the reader's personal dealings with dogs, but the author can provide context to guide the reader's interpretation.

Deliberate use of connotation may involve selection of a word to convey more than its dictionary meaning, or substitution of another word that has a different shade of meaning. The many words for dogs have a spectrum of implications regarding the dog's training, obedience, or expected role, and may even make a statement about the social status of its owner ("lap dog" versus "cur"). Even synonyms have different connotations: slender, thin, skinny may each convey different images to the reader's mind. The writer should choose the connotation, positive, negative, or neutral, that supports the mood.

Writing for the learned, connotation may involve etymology or make reference to classic works. In schoolbooks, awareness of connotation can avoid attracting extraneous ideas (as when writing "Napoleon was a bigger influence than Frederick the Great on world history" provokes thoughts of Napoleon's physical stature). In encyclopedias, words should connote authority and dispassion; the writer should avoid words whose connotations suggest bias, such as pejorative words.


Punctuation is now so standardized that it rarely is a factor in a writer's style. The same is true for gratuitous changes to spelling and grammar, unless the goal is to represent a regional or ethnic dialect in which such changes are customary.


Some figures of sp

From Yahoo Answers

Question:I am going to take the writing placement exam for the UC this May. I would really like to hear from those who took it what it is like. Is the reading passage hard to understand? What is the maximum score and what do you need to pass it? Is it harder than the ACT writing test? I got an 8 out of 12 for the ACT writing essay and a 28 on the combined English and Writing score.

Answers:Its Hard.

Question:I'm trying to prove that the norm of z is nowhere differentiable using the definition of the limit in the complex plane. My thought is to square it, prove that the resulting function is not analytic, and taking the square root. Other methods/thoughts would be appreciated.

Answers:If I understand you correctly, your strategy is as follows: (1) Show that |z|^2 is nowhere differentiable. (2) Argue that because |z|^2 is nowhere differentiable, |z| can't be either. This will almost work, but there are two issues. The idea you're using in (2) is formulated more clearly without square roots. Textbooks often include a proof that if f and g are differentiable at a point z, then their product fg is also differentiable at z. In particular, if we take f and g to be the same: If f is differentiable at a point z, then so is f^2. This implies that: If f^2 is not differentiable at a point z, then f is not differentiable at z either. The reason for phrasing things in terms of squaring instead of square rooting is that the formulation of "square roots" of complex functions is rather subtle. You have to make more choices than you do in the real case (where you can clear up all ambiguity by saying "the nonnegative square root"; this option is not available for general complex numbers). There are _many_ ways to square root and it is rarely enough to say "take the square root"; one must specify how the square root is to be chosen. If one can avoid this entirely (by phrasing things in terms of squaring), one should, if only for simplicity's sake. Earlier I said your strategy will "almost" work. Why? Well, (1) isn't true! It actually happens that |z|^2 _is_ differentiable at one point (at 0!). You can check this directly from the definitions, or from the Cauchy-Riemann equations; the derivative is 0. So your strategy should be modified somewhat: (1) Show that for any nonzero w, |z|^2 is not differentiable at w. (2) By the argument outlined earlier, this implies that for any nonzero w, |z| is not differentiable at w. (3) We must handle the case w = 0 separately (e.g. by calculation: if we approach 0 using z in positive numbers, |z|/z goes to 1; if we approach using negative numbers, it goes to -1.) This is a 100% solid way of solving the problem, and really the only work that needs to be done is to establish (1). How should we do that? Your instinct to consider |z|^2 instead of |z| is a good one: it should be easier to deal with because there is no square root. In particular, we could calculate the partial derivatives of the real and imaginary parts of |z|^2 and show directly that the Cauchy-Riemann equations do not hold at any nonzero point. I can think of another way that supposes you already knew that the function sending z to z* (complex conjugation) is not differentiable. (Textbooks often give it as their first example of a function that is not differentiable, because it is very easy to verify.) Since zz* = |z|^2 for all z, we have z* = |z|^2/z for all nonzero z. A textbook theorem says that if f and g are differentiable at z, and g is nonzero in a neighborhood of z, then f/g is also differentiable at z. So if we had a nonzero point at which |z|^2 were differentiable, as z is also differentiable there, we would conclude that z* is differentiable there. Since know (or can easily check, via the CR equations) that z* isn't differentiable there, we conclude that |z|^2 cannot be either. Complex analysis is lots of fun. Enjoy it!

Question:What are some great words (verbs/adjectives) to use when writing analytical essays? Such as: exemplify/pertain/pervade/resonate

Answers:Here are some: compare contrast elucidate demonstrate quantify qualify enumerate calculate verify clarify define classify explain Good luck on your essay.

Question:and write the definition of right angle as two conditionals please

Answers:No, do it yourself. Keep asking for help on something this simple the only right angles you will see, for life, are the corners of the deep fat fryer, that you operate.

From Youtube

Analytic Epistemology :This clip discusses some of the schools of thought in contemporary analytic epistemology. First, the clip mentions Bertrand Russells dislike for the standard notion of what constitutes "knowledge" in philosophy, believing it to be to much too vague. Then there is a brief summary of GE Moore's "Proof of an External World" and his views on foundationalism. The clip then mentions Ludwig Wittgenstein's idea that "meaning is use" within social contexts, and that philosophical obstacles are really just miscommunication within "language games." Simply put, Wittgenstein thought that there were no such things as genuine philosophical problems, and that philosophy was merely a byproduct of linguistic misunderstandings. The clip then discusses the differences between foundationalism and coherentism and WVO Quine's notion of the seamless "web of belief." Quine was a strong proponent of the natural sciences, and thought that findings in the natural sciences could shed significant light onto age-old philosophical questions concerning the nature of the mind and knowledge. The clip then summarizes "The Gettier Problem" which challenged the Platonic definition of knowledge as "justified true belief," and then ends with definitions of internalism/externalism, and Alvin Goldman's causal theory of knowledge.

Kaplan: The GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment Section :The Analytical Writing Assessment on the GMAT helps business schools analyze your writing skills. It's scored separately from your 200-800 point score, on a scale from 0-6 in increments of 0.5. Essays are scored by a human grade and a computer grading system, and the 2 scores are averaged for your final score.