Defining analysis can be a daunting and difficult task, but a good thumbnail definition would be that analysis is the investigation of a text’s purpose, construction, and contents.

When you analyze a text, you need to first understand what its purpose or goal is. Why was the text written?

Next, you need to understand how that text attempts to achieve that purpose. In other words, how is that text constructed? This construction includes the rhetorical properties of a text; therefore, an analysis will consider a text’s use of language, organization, and primary and secondary research as well as its intended audience. When analyzing a text, you need to understand how each of these factors work together to create a clear purpose.

Finally, in order to understand a text’s purpose and construction, you need to read a text closely and understand it. A good metaphor is to consider a jigsaw puzzle. The purpose would be to recreate the image the completed puzzle presents, while each piece represents a different rhetorical property used to isolate a particular part of the image. When you analyze a text, your task is to understand how these puzzle pieces fit and work together to create that final image.

Applying Research Skills

How do you decide whether to purchase an item? Do you use customer reviews? If so, what makes a customer review credible? What factors do you look for in a trustworthy review?

While each review should have a clear purpose—to provide an opinion on whether an item is worth purchasing or not—its construction can also affect its credibility and that purpose. For example, reviews that include frequent misspelled words, are overly brief, present unrealistic expectations for the item, or state/imply that the reviewer has received an incentive to write the review are usually dismissed quickly. These puzzle pieces do not support the review’s purpose; therefore, we quickly decide not to trust these reviews.

Reviews that include correct grammar, are long enough to include enough information, present realistic expectations for the item, and don’t include bias are not so easy to dismiss; these puzzle pieces support the review’s purpose; therefore, we tend to trust and consider these reviews when deciding whether to purchase the item.