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Academic papers often employ the same analytical sequence and evaluative and comparatives kills as we use in every day decision-making, and we write them for the same reason--to help us reach a decision about things we are comparing and then explain that decision to others.(1) it allows readers to easily see similarities and differences between two or more sources, (2) it accurately presents the information from the sources, (3) it presents the comparison for a purpose (i.e.: it has a thesis).
If you prefer to work on your computer, make a table using your word processing software or a spread sheet program.
List the main points, topics, or features in the left margin or column and then note how each text responds or represents it in the relevant column.
Assuming that the purpose of comparison and contrast is to discover similarities and differences, they formulate a thesis that says something like "X and Y have important similarities and differences" or "X is very similar to/different from Y." For example, "The Republican and Democratic platforms for the 1960 American presidential election were very similar." Readers of college-level papers with such a thesis might rightly ask "So? " because college-level writing requires that you say something about what you know rather than simply repeating it.
Developing a good thesis for a college-level comparison and contrast paper involves your looking at those similarities and differences and asking yourself the crucial question, "So what?
" The answer to this question can lead to a thesis statement like "A comparison of the Republican and Democratic platforms for the 1960 presidential race reveals so many similarities that one must wonder whether Americans actually have options when they go to the polls." That's a thesis that a reader might find interesting--or at least worth arguing about.
Once you have figured out a thesis statement, or at least something that you can work with temporarily (remember, you can always revise or replace your thesis once your paper is underway), you can begin drafting.
Each paragraph takes one feature or point of similarity or difference and discusses each source in relation to it.
For example, a paper comparing three paintings might contain one paragraph discussing the similarities and differences in the use of light and shade in the three paintings, another discussing how each painting uses color, and so on.
It is also a standard pattern for academic comparison and contrast essays.
Most of your college professors will expect you to follow this pattern.