Academic Writing

Rhetorical functions in academic writing: Analysis

One thing that you learn in higher education is how to analyse. It is an essential part of writing critically as defined by Bloom.


  • Identifies causes and effects.
  • Provides reasons.
  • Finds evidence and examples to support generalisations.
  • makes connections: comparisons and contrasts.
  • Distinguishes between facts and opinions.
  • Draws conclusions.

Typical verbs associated with analysis include: analyses, breaks down, compares, contrasts,  deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.

Typical assignment questions/briefs associated with analysis are:

  • What are the parts or features of ...?
  • How is _______ related to ...?
  • Can you show connection between ...?
  • How would you compare/contrast ...?
  • Why ...?

For example:


Scientists group rocks into three main types: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.

IGNEOUS rocks are produced by white-hot material deep inside the earth which rises towards the surface as a molten mass called magma. If the magma stops before on it reaches the surface, it cools and forms rocks such as granite. If the magma erupts, it forms a red-hot stream called lava. When the lava cools it becomes rock. One of the most common lava rocks is called basalt. Igneous rock is used in the formation of the other two main types of rocks - sedimentary and metamorphic.

SEDIMENTARY rock is formed by small particles or sediments such as sand, mud, dead sea animals and weathered rock. These are deposited in layers and become solid rock over millions of years as they are squeezed by the weight of other deposits above them.

The word metamorphosis means 'change'. Rocks which have been changed by heat and pressure are called METAMORPHIC rocks. They are formed deep inside the earth. Slate for example is formed from compressed mud or clay. Marble is another type of metamorphic rock. It is produced from limestone which has undergone change through heat and pressure,

Analysis can include:

Writing about Purpose/Function: Writing Functions 5: Function

Comparing & Contrasting: Writing Functions 13: Comparing

Expressing Reasons and Explanations: Writing Functions 16: Reasons

Giving Example: Writing Functions 8: Examples

Classifying/Categorising: Writing Functions 7: Classifying

Providing Support: Writing Functions 20: Supporting

Expressing Degrees of Certainty: Writing Functions 15: Certainty

Making Generalisations: Writing Functions 14: Generalising

Arguing & Discussing: Writing Functions 11: Discussing

Drawing Conclusions: Writing Functions 31: Concluding