Chapter 7 – Evaluation vs. Analysis

There are subtle differences between evaluation and analysis that a business writer of written business genres should be aware of. First, an evaluation , or appraisal, of business genres involves the reaction of the reader to the merits and weaknesses of a piece of writing – and it is subjective. When evaluating a piece of writing, the reader is assessing it according to a specific criteria.

In contrast, the analysis is a review of the elements of the writing, seeking answers to questions pertaining to the five Ws. The analysis is not the same as a summary – it involves much more than a restating of what was written. This explanation from the University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center offers a clear illustration of what is involved in each.

Traits of a Summary

  • Identifies the main points or elements
  • Identifies what was stated or what is included
  • Identifies thoughts or contributions others have had
  • No argument or conclusion is presented

Traits of an Analysis

  • Makes an argument or reaches a conclusion
  • Chooses specific elements or areas of study
  • Examines and interprets each element
  • Discusses why each element is important or significant
  • Discusses how each element connects to other pieces
  • Might discuss causes and effects
  • Might discuss strengths and weaknesses or advantages and disadvantages
  • Might discuss effectiveness or ineffectiveness
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Whether evaluating or analyzing a text, one requirement of good business writing to look for is whether or not it can be understood, at least by those in the same discourse. The writing should be straightforward and to the point. For business students in business writing classes, it is important to be able to review written genre for meaning and intent, as this kind of review – being able to assess the writing –will serve the future business leader well. Foundational to this assessment is the accessibility of the writing. Is it written so that those without a Ph.D. in the discourse can understand it, or does it contain million dollar words that require a scientific dictionary to decipher? Is the writing style closed – where the thesis is the only answer to the problem presented and the conclusion bears that out by restating what was presented in the text – or is it open – where conclusions about what is presented in the text can be drawn by the reader? For the business writer, accessibility is a critical component, whether the genre is a contract or an annual report. Whether expository, descriptive, or narrative in form, business writing must be understandable and accessible.

Another element that makes writing accessible is the use of section headings to guide the reader through your text. What business leader wants to read six pages of solid paragraphs with no indication of what each contains or where the next paragraph is going? Busy executives do not have time to sift through pages of narrative to find what they’re looking for. Business student now, and in the future, should use headings to identify what topics are being covered in their writing as a means to make it more accessible to the reader.

Credibility and value

In your evaluation of a text, another requirement for good business writing to look for is the credibility of the author and by extension the organization the writer either represents or is writing on behalf of. Credibility requires a level of respect in the discourse – respect that comes from proven proficiency and a track record of authoritative (accurate, expert) writing or accomplishments in the field.

Readership is subjective. What is valuable to one reader may not be valuable to another. Value is created in writing when it is relevant to readership, when it has currency, and when the ideas are supported by fact and validating expertise. As a business student writer, and later when you become a business leader, it is important for you to value the expectations of the reader by writing with them in mind. Who is your audience? What are their presumed interests, based on the fact that they’re reading your work? What do they need to know?



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