Note that the purpose of cause-and-effect essays is to explain to your audience (1) the causes of an event or situation; (2) the effects of an event or situation; or more rarely (3) both causes and effects. Whichever approach you choose, remember that you can’t discuss effects without at least mentioning causes, and vice versa. Here are some guidelines to consider as you write your essay:
If you are tracing causes,
- Have you made it clear that you are explaining causes?
- Have you left out any significant causes?
- Have you given enough evidence to readers that the causal relationships are valid, not just guesses?
- Have you claimed remote causes you can’t prove? Or made assertions but offered no proof?
- Have you oversimplified by assuming only one small cause for a large phenomenon or assuming that one thing caused another just because one preceded the other?
If you are determining effects,
- Have you made it clear that you are explaining effects?
- What possible effects have you left out? Are any of them worth adding?
- Have you given sufficient evidence that these effects have occurred?
- Could any effect have resulted not from the cause you describe but some other causes?