How do I write a comparative analysis?


A comparative analysis is an essay in which two things are compared and contrasted. You may have done a "compare and contrast" paper in your English class, and a comparative analysis is the same general idea, but as a graduate student you are expected to produce a higher level of analysis in your writing. You can follow these guidelines to get started. 

  • Conduct your research. Need help? Chat with a librarian or schedule a research appointment.
  • Brainstorm a list of similarities and differences. The Double Bubble  document linked below can be helpful for this step.
  • Write your thesis. This will be based on what you have discovered regarding the weight of similarities and differences between the things you are comparing. 
  • Write the body of your paper. There are two main approaches to organizing a comparative analysis:
    • Alternating (point-by-point) method: Find similar points between each subject and alternate writing about each of them.
    • Block (subject-by-subject) method: Discuss all of the first subject and then all of the second.
    • This page from the University of Toronto gives some great examples of when each of these is most effective.
  • Don't forget to cite your sources! 


Visvis, V., & Plotnik, J. (n.d.). The comparative essay. University of Toronto.

Walk, K. (1998). How to write a comparative analysis. Harvard University.

  • Last Updated May 12, 2022
  • Views 91588
  • Answered By Emily Gilbert, Health Sciences Librarian

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