Essay writing technique

Essay writing technique: example of PEAL paragraph

Nov 12, 2012
When writing essays, often times the most difficult obstacle to overcome is that of forming well-structured, coherent, and supportive paragraphs. To address this many techniques have surfaced over time to assist students and writers in forming logical and unified paragraphs as well as to effectively present evidential support. PEAL (point, evidence, analysis, link) is just an example of these efforts.
In addition, acronyms in general are excellent learning tools that enable students to comprehend and retain specific information, such as writing techniques, in an easy-to-remember word or phrase. As you continue to read you will see that PEAL is not the only writing technique that works to address the issue of paragraph structure.

The purpose of paragraph structuring techniques

Along with the PEAL acronym writers and instructors have also conjured up the TRI (topic sentence, restate, illustrate) technique as well as the PIE (point, illustrate, explain/evaluate), TAXES (topic sentence, assertion statement, explanation, significance) and many others. The main objective of all of these is simply to assist you in creating a well-crafted paragraph that demonstrates, unity, coherence, and adequate support and argument development.

PEAL paragraphs

Each element of the PEAL technique serves an important purpose in paragraph structure and style. Students, writers, and researchers can present consistent and effectual paragraphs by adhering to these simple guidelines.
1.Point - Clearly state your main point, idea, thesis or topic sentence. For a paragraph your main point will be limited to that which you can sufficiently cover in the text of your paragraph. This differs from the thesis statement or objective statement for your entire essay, as it should only refer to one paragraph.
2.Evidence - Provide evidence to support your main idea statement from primary or secondary sources. The relevancy of the evidence will be determined by the type of support needed to aide or 'backup' your statement.
For instance, if your topic sentence was "Bipolar disorder is a pervasive and steadily increasing disease prevalent among young Americans under the age of 30", a statistic identifying the amount of young Americans affected by the disorder would be an appropriate example of evidential support.
3.Analysis - Examine the statements you presented and elaborate on their meanings. At this point, depending on the nature of the information, you will also be making sense of or interpreting the data as well as making inferences or deductions based on that information. Some questions to consider; What details are illustrated here? Why is this statement important? What significance does it hold in relation to the other evidences surrounding it?
Note that each paragraph's 'analysis' component may not contain all of the elements discussed and can be limited to one or two sentences. For example, as in the previous statement regarding Bipolar disorder, if you were to analyze it along with a statistic you may then note, "The young Americans that suffer from this disorder come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. Some are from poorer backgrounds while many also come from middle class and upper class households." These sentences provide a simple extension of the information provided in the previous sentences (they also present factual information rather than judgments or ratings).
4.Link - Provide a smooth transition to the next paragraph as well as to your main thesis or argument. Your link is a crucial part of creating unity throughout your paper as well as maintaining logic and coherence. Each paragraph contributes something different to your paper as your work through each point to fulfill your overall objective - keep this in mind when creating link or bridge sentences in each paragraph. An easy method to choose may be to simply provide one sentence that connects the paragraph to the main argument and then one sentence that connects it to or introduces the topic of the next paragraph.
In addition to this understanding of the PEAL writing technique it's also important to comment on a more popular and similar technique known as PEEL (point, evidence, evaluate, link). All the components are identically the same with the exception of the 'A', which is exchanged with an 'E' for evaluation. Though they seem to represent the same things, i.e. analysis and evaluation, the two are actually very different and not exactly interchangeable. Students often get the two confused so its good to note the key differences.

PEAL vs PEEL or analysis vs evaluation

So what's the difference between an analysis and an evaluation? The confusion surrounded by these terms may have come about because both involve, to some degree, looking closer at or examining and interpreting essay text. Though the main difference is that of being factual and non-judgmental as compared to being judgmental and critical.
When you analyze a text your are pulling out the obvious and not-so-obvious information that is present without making a 'call' on it, with regards to it being good, bad, or in between. As seen in the example above under 'analysis' the statement about young Americans affected by Bipolar disorder doesn't indicate whether those numbers are good or bad, it just simply elaborates on the data and provides more analytical information.
So for instance if this same example were to be applied to the PEEL writing technique a more appropriate statement would be to start off by saying "These numbers indicate that..." or "So by this we can understand that young Americans..." and so on. By using these types of introductions your are starting off making a judgement or decisive statement about the presented information.
In essence, a more fitting acronym to follow might actually be PEAEL. Mainly because the natural order of argument development and discussion usually leads a writer to analyze and then evaluate information. So after you've reviewed and pulled out all of the necessary information from the data, then you would make a decision or judgment on the information.
Perhaps in some instances only the PEAL technique is required, for example if you are writing a definition or cause and effect essay where all of the information is pretty straightforward and needs little judgment and evaluation on your part. Likewise, the PEEL technique may be more appropriate for most venues in which you are writing an argumentative or persuasive essay because in such cases you are expected to evaluate information on a topic and then make significant inferences as well as conclusory statements about the evidences presented. So in those situations be sure to apply the PEEL technique or a combination of both rather than the PEAL alone.
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