Writing about a process is a standard assignment in many college classes, so students should learn these guidelines for writing a process analysis paper.
As a college student, you are faced with research paper writing, one of which is the process-analysis or “how to” paper, which describes and/or analyzes a procedure or method. For example, you might be asked to describe how to do or make something or how something works.
Yet, regardless of the assignment’s goal, by knowing exactly what is involved in this type of paper and the most effective approach to take, you can greatly increase your odds of earning a good grade.
What Is a Process Analysis?
A processis a sequence of actions or changes that bring about a result. Moreover, in order to analyze a process effectively, you must know it thoroughly or learn as much as you can about it, and then you must divide it into steps or stages.
Finding a Topic for a Process Analysis or How-to Paper
Although your instructor might assign a topic, chances are you will be allowed to select your own topic. If you are, though, try to find one that isn’t too broad.
For example, it’s unlikely that you could successfully describe within the word-count allowance for the average paper something as complex as how to build a space shuttle or, for that matter, even a rocket booster.
When considering a topic, keep these points in mind.
- Limit the topic by selecting a small part of a larger process” or selecting “only major points in a larger process. For example, instead of attempting to instruct readers on how to play the piano, concentrate on helping them learn the different keys.
- Further, keep in mind that you are writing a process not an illustration, so if your topic, for example, is “How to Housebreak a Puppy,” you should focus solely upon the process involved and not recount stories about what transpired when you tried to housebreak your family’s new puppy.
Suggested Topics for a Process Paper
If you are at a loss when it comes to choosing a topic, these suggestions might at least provide you with some inspiration.
- How a particular musical instrument works?
- How to make a home more energy efficient?
- How the national electoral system works?
- How plants decay?
- How to mend a broken heart?
- How to stop smoking, drinking, or some other bad habit?
- How to win at Scrabble or some other game?
- How to break off a relationship?
- How to make a music CD?
- How to create a free website?
- How to train for a marathon?
- How an aquarium functions?
- How to study for an exam?
- How to meet new people?
Steps to Organizing the Process Paper
When writing about a procedure, the best approach is chronological since the paper’s goal is to take the reader from point A to point B to point C, and so on, one logical step at a time creating great paragraphs. The preliminary step in any process, obviously, is the gathering of necessary supplies.
Therefore, first tell the reader what materials will be needed, whether you’re going to describe how to make a chocolate éclair, change the oil in a car, housebreak a puppy, or study for an exam.
There are several tips that can help you organize the paper effectively.
- Write a topic sentence to help you stay focused.
- Write out the steps involved.
- Eliminate any unnecessary steps.
- Add needed steps you might have omitted.
- Arrange all steps in chronological order.
- Use subtopic sentences to clarify steps.
- Use transitions and other connectors to maintain process unity. For example, consider using such words and phrases as first, second, third, now, next, then, further, in addition, moreover, likewise, also, for example, in addition, for instance; as a result, for this reason, consequently, etc.
Some additional suggestions include these.
- Explain any special tools or knowledge needed to complete the process.
- Divide the procedure into major stages and then smaller steps.
- After establishing an effective pattern of steps, explain each step, noting how it connects to the next step.
As a side note, Trimmer also suggests that students consult an expert to see if they have omitted steps or overlooked things about which the reader should be cautioned.
Finally, and in summary, once you’ve completed the paper, make certain that you carefully proofread and edit for errors such as poorly constructed sentences, fragments, comma splices, and fused sentences, dangling and misplaced modifiers, misused words, and other common errors that might negatively impact the grade.
What’s more, make certain that the paper meets any formatting requirements established by your instructor and/or the university. If you do these things, on top of following the guidelines provided above, you will greatly improve the chances of your earning a good grade on the assignment.