How to Write a Cause and Effect Paper
In the following short guide you will find 11 essential tips on how to write an outstanding cause and effect paper and an effective cause and effect essay outline which is an integral part of it. We will also provide some good cause and effect essay topics for you to consider writing about.
1. Cause and effect essay definition
The world consists of processes, occurrences, and various phenomena which need to be explained by the human mind. By knowing better the cause of a given phenomenon people will be able to better deal with the latter. The basis of modern science is the conviction that all things can be observed and controlled by knowing their causes and effects. In short, this is the principle of causality: everything has its cause, and every cause leads to a given effect.
Writing a cause and effect essay is not easy. It is advisable to read not only other cause effect essay samples, but also academic writings. The principle of causality is visible in the way of argumentation of researchers. In Natural sciences they carry out experiments in order to establish the cause/s of a given occurrence. In Social sciences and Humanities it is impossible to do an experiment, but it is preferable to work with statistics, archives, etc.
It should be also added that sometimes it might happen that students write only about effects, and not about causes. This is the easiest way of writing a cause and effect essay, and for that reason the current guide does not deal with it. You should keep in mind, however, that the main goal of the cause and effect paper is to demonstrate your skills, to analyze the relation between causes and effects, to show that you are able and competent to penetrate into the essence of things. Everyone can write an essay about the effects of diabetes on peoples’ lives (because this is visible), but not all people know what are the causes of diabetes (only scientists know in detail).
2. Cause and effect essay structure
The structure of your cause and effect paper should be the same as other schools essays. You have a topic formulation, then an introduction which defines the topic and the scope; afterward, the main part follows which contains the hypothesis and supporting evidences; and at the end there is the conclusion.
For more details about a sample of cause and effect essay, see the section “Cause and effect essay outline.”
3. Possible cause and effect essay topics
Your teacher will probably give you an option to choose a cause and effect topic on your own. The topic of your cause and effect paper may be related to various fields, such as Biology, Physics, Psychology, Art, Law, History, and so forth. The best way to choose a topic for cause effect essay is to think about an issue which is both actual and important for you. Try to find such a topic which you are well familiar with; a topic also should be well-defined in order to construct a more reliable hypothesis.
Wrongly formulated cause and effect paper topics are the following:
- “American Revolutionary War”
- “National Socialism”
- “Gender Discrimination”
As you can see, all these topics are too broadly formulated; thus, it is difficult to find the exact point on which the cause and effect essay is focused. It is better not only to add the phrase “causes of…”, but also to narrow down the scope even more, as in the first topic of the following.
Well-formulated, good cause and effect essay topics read as follows:
- “Causes of the American Revolutionary War: philosophical background”
- “Causes of the emergence of National Socialism”
- “Causes and effects of gender discrimination”
- “Causes and effect of diabetes”
A cause and effect essay topic needs to be precisely formulated, without being too abstract or too concrete. In the former case you will easily be distracted from your main point, and in the second instance you will need to write a cause and effect paper of comprehensive length.
62 Good Cause and Effect Essay Topics
To get your creative juices flowing, here are some other good cause and effect essay topics you can think about to write your own essay.
- Is there a correlation between hypertension and impotence?
- Can diabetes result in kidney damage?
- What can obesity do to your self-esteem?
- How does insomnia affect your body and mind?
- Can virtual reality change the way we live?
- What are the psychological effects of having a stroke at a young age?
- What are the effects of a one-child policy for a country?
- What are the effects of not having a policy to limit the number of children a woman can have?
- How does social media affect our young children (Generation Z)?
- How does the digital age affect baby boomers?
- What are the effects of air pollution?
- Why do moms worry so much?
- What is the impact of Zumba on your body?
- Why do some children misbehave?
- What are the effects of psychological trauma at an early age?
- What happens with people who engage in sex as a teenager?
- Why do teenagers engage in drug abuse?
- How does having an autistic child change your life?
- Does vaccination cause autism?
- What if the polio vaccine wasn’t invented?
- What causes mood swings?
- Can doing pilates change your body shape?
- What is the harm of skipping class?
- What are the benefits to the feminism movement?
- What is the effect of a bad marriage on the children?
- Do girls really grow up to marry their dads? How does a girl’s relationship with her father impact her future relationships?
- Do boys really grow up to marry their moms? How does a boy’s relationship with his mom affect his future relationships?
- Why do children rebel?
- What are the effects of yoga on the body?
- What causes sibling rivalry?
- Does birth order really impact personality?
- Does your zodiac sign really impact your personality?
- What is the psychological impact of growing up poor?
- What is the psychological impact of growing up rich?
- Why do some people hate going to the doctor?
- How does stress impact your health?
- What is the impact of stress on eating? Why do you do and how does it affect you?
- What is the impact of playing violent video games at a young age?
- Why is Google so popular?
- Not talking about finances before marriage can cause divorce.
- What is the impact of smart phones on our lives?
- Does using a tablet at a younger age make you smarter?
- What is the impact of reality shows on human behaviour?
- How does strength training affect the body?
- Does DHA and ARA in a baby’s infant formula really make them smarter?
- What are the effects of globalization?
- Do processed foods really cause lifestyle diseases?
- Does eating healthy guarantee a long life?
- Does exercising every day guarantee good health?
- Does using iPads in schools improve education?
- Using social media can improve communication skills.
- Parents cause sibling rivalry.
- Banning unhealthy foods will make people eat healthier.
- Adding a special tax to unhealthy food will make people eat healthier.
- Long-distance relationships never work.
- Obesity results in joint problems.
- Does wearing too much makeup affect your skin?
- Are organic products better for healthier hair and skin?
- Is a vegan diet healthier?
- Does Axe body spray help guys get more girls?
- What is the impact of cardiovascular exercises on the body?
- What is the effect of moisturizing lotion on the health of your skin?
4. Collecting information
To collect information means to read comprehensively about a topic for cause and effect essay. You should start from the more general information, and then narrow it down according to the scope of your work. Hence, you have to define the scope prior to taking this step. While collecting the data, facts, and statistics you need, you have to keep track of every citation, every assertion you want to use in the cause and effect paper. Many students make the same mistake: they just remark some interesting assertions or theories, without even writing down the title of the book containing these assertions. Then these students need to search again for the same assertions, and waste a lot of time.
5. Cause and effect essay outline
A cause and effect essay outline is a must when you want to write a perfect paper. Thanks to your outline your work will be consistent and well-elaborated. You can start writing your outline for cause and effect essay by formulating the topic, its scope and your hypothesis as well as some arguments to support it. Then you can elaborate your ideas further. The following is a sample of such an outline:
-Topic: “Causes of the American Revolutionary War: Philosophical background”
-Scope: chronological scope - the early 1770s; geographical location - New England.
-Introduction: The current essay deals with the philosophical causes of the American Revolution.
-Hypothesis: “The philosophical cause of the American Revolution was the idea of independence, a conception elaborated by T. Jefferson, T. Paine, and others, in the early 1770s. They argued in favor of the independence of America as the main factor for the future well-being and prosperity of its citizens.”
-Argument 1: The philosophy of Jefferson, Paine, and others increased the eagerness of American people for independence (this should be proved by citing writings by these authors).
-Argument 2: In the 1760s the conception of independence was still vague and for that reason the revolutionary forces did not exist yet (but you should add that there were also other causes of the Revolution, causes which at that time were not strong enough to lead to any change).
-Conclusion: (here you can recapitulate your hypothesis and arguments).
6. Hypothetical reasoning
The basis of every analysis of causality is hypothetical reasoning. This means, you need to assume a given hypothesis about the causes of a particular occurrence, and then to check your hypothesis. The way in which you will prove the hypothesis differs widely from academic field to academic field. For instance, in History it is harder to define precisely the causes of a given event because of the fact that it already happened, and historians themselves cannot witness it. But in Physics it is possible to do an experiment in order to establish a given causal relation: when you do the thing X, then the thing Y will take place.
However, the very conception of cause is difficult to be defined. People usually witness only the effects (except in Natural sciences), and causes remain in the past. What you can do is merely to make conjectures about the causes. However, there are different kinds of causes and factors which favor the given process or event to occur. You should discern only what are most important amongst them. This you will do by following the steps presented below:
You have to define clearly the process, event, etc., which you want to analyze. Discern it from its causes and its effects.
Example: The American Revolutionary War has to be located within a definite period of time. If you say that the War started in, let’s say, 1765, then you will need to justify your view. It would be more difficult for you to search for the philosophical causes of the War, because of the fact that all relevant works were written even after 1771; and the cause should precede the given event. But if you argue that the War started in 1775(6) you will easily find its causes and evidence in your support. Hence, it is important to define precisely the topic and scope of your analysis.
Forming a hypothesis
you will form your hypothesis according to the literature available on the topic. The section “Hypothesis elaboration” will deal with this step in detail.
Finding evidential support, or proof in favor of your hypothesis
In history you need to work with archives, letters, and memoirs; in modern history - audio records, photos, and even videos. In this case, evidences could be: philosophical works of T. Jefferson and T. Paine; letters and memoirs of the persons related to the Revolutionary War and so forth.
Define the factors favoring the occurrence of the given event
This means every process, event, etc. needs a given set of circumstances which will favor its emergence. Sometimes school students take factors for causes. This may be quite confusing: a cause is an act, event, process, which leads to the emergence or modification of another event, process, etc. On the other hand, a factor is a phenomenon (A) which does not have direct influence on the emergence of the particular event, process (B), etc., but it (A) rather increases the chance the particular phenomenon (B) to take place.
Example of cause: the dissatisfaction of the colonists in America of the tax policy of England in the 1770s.
Example of factor: the international isolation of America weakened its positions and forced the colonists to proclaim independence.
The method “What if…”
Here you have to explain what would have happened had the cause been absent.
Example: Had the English King and Parliament not increased the taxes (cause), the American Revolution would have not occurred (effect), at least not at that time (additional explanation).
7. Wrong arguments related to causality
There are plenty of wrong causal arguments. Here you will see only two of them.
1) Post hoc ergo propter hoc - or “after this, therefore because of this”- this is the wrong assumption that the phenomenon A precedes the phenomenon B, therefore A is the cause of B.
Example: “The major military event in America before the Revolution was the struggle between the English and the French during the Seven Years’ War. Therefore, the latter was the cause of the former.”
2) Correlation is causation - the wrong assumption that the fact the two phenomena coincide means one is the cause of the other. In fact, both phenomena have one and the same cause.
Example: “At the beginning of the American Revolutionary War there was a strong confrontation between the people wanting independence and those loyal to England. In the course of the events, the collision became stronger. Therefore, this conflict was the cause of the American Revolutionary War.”
8. Hypothesis elaboration
Your hypothesis needs to be elaborated precisely and in a way which would ensure its verifiability, i.e. it can be proved or renounced by carrying out a piece of research. In order to have a more precisely formulated hypothesis, you need to narrow down the scope of your cause and effect paper. The more general your topic is, the more difficult will be for you to prove your hypothesis scientifically.
An example of a hypothesis is the following:
“The philosophical cause of the American Revolution was the idea of independence, a conception elaborated by T. Jefferson, T. Paine, and others, in the early 1770s. They argued in favor of the independence of America as the main factor for the future well-being and prosperity of its citizens.”
As you can see, a hypothesis should be formulated at least in two sentences (but not more than four sentences long), or to contain at least two assertions. The first assertion is more general, whereas the latter one is more concrete and easy to be verified; for example, by researching the writings of the aforementioned authors.
You should not quote excessively. All you need is to support your arguments by citing several passages of text. The principles of citing are as follows:
- Cite only relevant information (related to your cause and effect essay topic or the argument).
- Cite only reliable sources.
- Cite less, explain more (do not use quotations to save your efforts).
Employ short quotations. Block citations are not recommended, especially when your cause and effect paper is short. Format the references according to the required academic style (see next section).
Your list of references should comprise between five and fifteen titles. The style you can use depends on the particular academic field. Here are some examples of three most popular academic styles:
Huntington, S. (2004). Who are we? The challenges to America’s national identity. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Huntington, Samuel. Who are we? The challenges to America’s national identity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.
Chicago and Turabian style
Huntington, Samuel. Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.
Every cause and effect essay you write, whether in school or in college, needs to be carefully checked and revised, if needed. It is preferable to do your revision several days after finishing the draft. Otherwise, your cause and effect paper will not be finished properly.
Writing a cause and effect essay can demonstrate your analytical skills and comprehensive knowledge. In any rate, you need to follow two principles of common sense and try to be as logical and consistent as possible. Define clearly your topic, scope and hypothesis: this is the way to writing excellent essays.
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