How to Analyze Issues in College Writing

Issues are problems that can be debated, such as government spending, pollution from fossil fuels, or bias in news coverage. In college writing assignments, you’re often asked to analyze an issue and offer your own stance, based on logical reasoning and supported by research from appropriate sources. The analytical process involves breaking down an issue, a complex mix of ideas, into distinct pieces that form a focused thesis statement about the topic.

A key to a well written article is to have one clear opinion about the subject that you are discussing. Your opinion should be strong and well backed up with facts, statistics, and quotes from people who share your point of view. Avoid using rhetorical devices like personal attacks, which only polarize your readers and divide the audience instead of convincing them to see your point of view.

Use the following vocabulary to help you understand the meaning of issues:

spring, rise, originate, derive, flow, emanate, and stem all mean to emerge from something. Spring and rise suggest a quick coming into being, whereas derive suggests a gradual growth or ascent. Flow and emanate emphasize the movement of an issue from one source to another, while stem stresses a definite or identifiable origin. The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary Copyright 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.