Comparative analysis is common in academic writing. The most basic level of comparative writing pertains to writing comparative essays. Comparative essays compare and contrast the attributes of two different aspects of any concept, theory, text or historical figure. The most basic level of comparative writing usually encompasses comparing the attributes of each concept or text. You might be perplexed about how to write a comparative analysis for a research paper. A research paper is not about listing the features of two things or concepts and then highlighting the similarities or differences. It entails developing a coherent argument which is a difficult task in comparative analysis research papers. This article will tell you how to write a comparative analysis for a research paper.
Steps To Write Comparative Analysis For Research Paper
The first step to write a comparative analysis for a research paper is topic selection. Topic selection is the most crucial step. You must select a topic that matches your interests, and it must be researchable. For example, if you select a topic with limited data, it will be difficult to write a paper on it. Topic selection for comparative research entails selecting two topics, concepts, historical events or influential figures you can compare. You can select the topics based on the following criteria:
- Unique topics with multiple sources of data
- Topics you are passionate about
- Topics that add value to the literature
- Select those topics on which you have considerable knowledge
Selecting a topic requires reviewing the literature and contemporary research to identify the latest trends and problems. You will have to spend a considerable amount on selecting the topics. You can also get PhD dissertation help in this regard. After that, you need to read the literature, identify the potential gaps in the studies, and note down the references. Brainstorming helps you develop ideas for the topic and enlist possible ideas for selecting the topics. Comparative analysis requires selecting those topics that are very similar yet not so similar. For example, let’s look at the following example:
Topic: A comparative perspective of State building in Iran and Afghanistan in the early 20th century
Afghanistan and Iran are two countries that share a 900 kilometers border. There are a lot of cultural commonalities that exist between the two countries. However, in the early 20th century Reza Shah Pahlavi successfully built a functional state in Iran. He modernised the country and successfully built a loyal army. On the other hand, Afghanistan’s ruler King Amanullah Khan tried to modernise Afghanistan but failed to do so. He did not succeed in building a loyal and unified army, unlike Reza Shah Pahlavi. Consequently, Afghanistan’s political structure is still unstable today compared to Iran. So, select those topics that have commonalities, yet there are differences. It will help you develop a coherent argument.
Build the Comparative Context
Comparative context refers to the frame of reference based on which you will conduct comparative analysis in form of research proposal. The frame of reference is the context under which you group two topics for comparison and contrast. The frame of reference can be a concept, a theme, a theory or a question. You must extract a frame of reference from authentic sources.
For example, if the frame of reference is a concept or theory such as the theory of modernity, it will be the overarching theme of your research. You can compare the contrast two countries under the overarching theme of modernity. For instance, modernity is the frame of reference for comparing and contrasting the impact and outcomes of modernity on two countries. A frame of reference is crucial for determining the focus of your research. So, it is essential to develop a comparative context for comparative analysis.
Justify The Grounds For Comparison
One of the important aspects of writing a comparative analysis research paper is to justify the grounds for comparison. For example, if you are comparing the political structure of two countries, you must identify the grounds for comparison. You cannot compare apples and oranges. It is essential to inform the readers that your decision is thoughtful, intentional and not arbitrary.
Develop a Strong Research Problem
The basis for comparison prefigures how comparable your thesis will be. Like in any argumentative work, your research problem will summarise your main points, which logically flow from your point of view. However, the research problem in comparative analysis depends upon how the two concepts you have selected for comparison relate. Do they add to, support, challenge, contest, or dispute one another? You can use “whereas” to highlight the differences in your research problem for a comparative perspective.
Organisational structure is essential for writing comparative analysis. The introduction section of your research paper must have the following components:
- Frame of Reference
- Grounds for Comparison
- Background of the Study
- Research Problem
You can divide the organisational structure of a comparative research paper into the following components:
You can divide the research paper in sequential order. You can discuss part A of your research paper first and then part B. The discussion will be in an orderly structure. If part B of your topic adds to part A, then the sequential order is appropriate.
You can also divide the research paper based on alternating order. Alternating order refers to simultaneously discussing the points of part A and part B of your comparative research. Alternating order is appropriate for highlighting the contradictions and debates between the two parts of your research. However, you must be cautious about alternating too much between the points and group more than one contradicting idea under a single point. It will help you devises structured and coherent arguments.
Creating a Link Between A and B
Every argumentative research paper necessitates building links between arguments and connecting them with the central argument. It gives coherence and cohesion to the research paper. The logical and systematic connections between the arguments foster your research problem. So, in a comparative analysis, connecting your points for parts A and B to the central argument is essential. You can use the following transitional expressions for compare and contrast:
- On the contrary
- On the other hand
Comparative analysis research papers are tricky and require solid frames of reference and grounds for comparison. You must use transition words to compare and contrast the similarities and differences. The organisational structure of the research paper depends upon the aims and objectives of comparison. You can follow the above-mentioned guidelines for writing a comparative research paper.