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Sophomore Research: Cause & Effect

Cause and Effect

What is Cause and Effect?

Cause and effect is something we encounter everyday, but rarely think about in concrete terms...

In the most basic sense, cause and effect helps us explain 2 things...

WHAT happened (the effect) and WHY it happened (the cause)!

Topic : Test Grades

Effect : Student fails a test.

Causes : Did not study enough, Did not study the right things, waited too long to begin studying, stayed out too late the night before.

Topic : Traffic Accidents

Effect : Number of accidents increases

Causes : Age limit for drivers lowered, Maximum age for drivers raised, amount of training required decreased, legal limit for DUI increased, speed limit increase, number of cars on road increased.

(Western Illinois University)

Another example:

Topic : Teen Driver Accidents

Causes : Teens have less experience driving and avoiding other bad drivers than adults.   Teens have a high incidence of "distracted driving" (ex. texting while driving, putting on making, talking)   Teens have a high incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other substances. 

Effects : Higher insurance costs for teen drivers.   Teens have a high incidence of injury or mortality.

(Glendale Community College)

Getting Started with Your Cause / Effect Research Paper

Step 1: Choose to Examine the Causes or the Effects of an event or topic.

Unless your teacher has told you otherwise, focus on just causes OR effects, not both.

Causes Paper

Focus on a single event. Think about why the event occurred.

Step 2: Brainstorm for your three main points.

Write down as many ideas as you can about why the event occurred - all contributing factions.

Then, group ideas into three main points. keep the best ideas that fall into one of the three main points and drop the rest.

Step 3: Develop a Thesis Statement

Create a thesis statement that mentions a "causes-type" word and the three main causes. 

A simple example format : The event is caused by 1, 2, and 3.     

 

Step 1: Choose to Examine the Causes or the Effects of an event or topic.

Effects Paper

Focus on a single event.  Think about what happened (outcomes) as a result of the event.

Step 2Brainstorm for your three main points

Write down as many ideas as you can about the results of the event - all the outcomes.

Then, group ideas into three main points. keep the best ideas that fall into one of the three main points and drop the rest.

Step 3: Develop a Thesis Statement

Create a thesis statement that mentions an "effects-type" word and the three main effects.

A simple example format : The effects of the event are 1, 2, and 3.

St. Petersburg College

Organizing a Cause or Effect Paper

Introduction ParagraphAttention grabber is the first sentence of the introduction. Lead from a general discussion of the topic to the main point of the paper, the thesis statement sentence. Thesis statement is the last sentence of the introduction paragraph.

Thesis Statement

Body ParagraphsBegin each paragraph with a topic sentence that at least alludes to the main point of that paragraph. Then follow up with concrete and specific details to provide “evidence” and support the point.

Body Paragraph 1 

Topic Sentence for Point 1

     Detail 1

     Detail 2

Body Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence for Point 2

     Detail 1

     Detail 2

Body Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence for Point 3

     Detail 1

     Detail 2

Conclusion Paragraph :  Conclude with a rewording of the thesis statement and place as the first sentence of the conclusion paragraph. Move from that specific point of the essay out to a general discussion of the topic. Look to the introduction for ideas on what to include in the conclusion.

St. Petersburg College

Signal Transitions for Cause/Effect

Signaling Transitions            

As you write, use the transitions, or signal words, that tell readers you are demonstrating causal relationships between your ideas:

  • Led to
  • Because
  • Cause(s)
  • Reasons(s)
  • Explanation(s)
  • So

Transition words that suggest to the reader that you are discussing effects include the following:

  • Therefore
  • As a result
  • Consequently
  • Thus
  • Then
  • Thanks to

A cause and effect paper relies heavily on your analysis of the situation. Although there are many ways to interpret any situation and the effects that it has produced, in the end the convincing power of your paper depends on specific evidence, clear and convincing language, and logical development.       (Butte College)

Transitions Handout - UNC-CH Writing Center

Cause and Effect Ideas by Category

Category Potential Topic Ideas
Family and Relationships

What are the causes of soured relationships between siblings?

What are the lifelong effects of being raised by a single parent?

What effect does family vacations have on the quality of family life?

Environment

What is the most destructive factor affecting climate change?

What is the effect of pollution on the planet?

What are the most significant causes of catastrophes on the earth?

Social Justice and other issues

What impact does gang violence have on a community?

How have social media effected communication?

What effect does poverty have on education?

Technology

How has easy access to technology effected childhood?

What impact does the world wide web have on teenagers?

How has modern technology changed the classroom setting?

Education

What makes someone a great Student?

What is the cause of failure in school?

What is the long term effect of cheating on an exam?

Psychology

What effect does social media have on rising rates of youth Depression?

What is the effect of stress on students who work full time while attending school?

Why is having good mental health as important as having good physical health?

Health

What effect does a poor diet have on personal health?

What is the effect of poor sleep on quality of life?

What are the long term effects of smoking?

A Research Guide for Students