To analyze means to break something into smaller parts and understand how they work together. A child who sets his/her toys into pieces and tries to fix them again actually analyzes these toys. Note that breaking something into its parts is not even half of the work. It is extremely important to understand the mechanism and set these parts back again. (Therefore, not all children are successful analysts.) Let’s check the following sections to understand what analysis is and what it is not.
What is analysis? Getting to the roots
The word ‘analysis’ comes from a Greek word that can be translated as ‘a breaking up’. Therefore, breaking into parts is an essential component of any successful analysis. However, the analysis definition is not complete unless it includes also what follows after the breaking into parts: synthesis – meaning to combine these parts together again.
For example, if you are going to analyze a problem, you should first determine its main underlying causes (smaller parts) and then see how they work together (synthesis). If you are going to analyze a movie, you should divide it into smaller parts or its various aspects, such as the script, actors’ play, music, special effects and so on.
What is analysis and how to do it?
If, after understanding the definition of analysis, you wonder how to do it effectively, you should understand that you actually perform it already on a regular basis. For example, when you see a nice guy winking at you, you try to figure out what on earth is he trying to tell you. Maybe he wants to ask you not to stand on his foot or winks to his friend behind your back, whom you do not see. That’s analysis. You try to look at the roots of the situation and explain its main underlying causes. Here are the main steps required for an effective analysis:
- Look at the subject and determine its main parts;
- Look at the mechanism (X influences Y; X and Y influence each other; there is a direct or indirect relation between X and Y);
- Look for opportunities to improve something.
What is analysis? Best and worst examples
Now that you understand what analysis is, you might want to learn what it is not. Analysis should not be confused with:
Check these examples to see the difference between poor and excellent analysis:
|Bad analysis example||Good analysis example||Explanation|
|The movie Gone with the Wind depicts the events of the Civil War.||Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind, used the events of the Civil War to place her characters into an extraordinary surrounding.||The first example doesn't analyze anything – it just briefly summarizes the plot of the movie.|
|World War II started in 1939.||The year 1939 is considered as the year when World War II started, because in that year Germany and Soviet Russia invaded Poland.||The first example only states a fact, while the second example provides the reasons for it.|
Now you know the answers to the question “what is analysis” and so you should be able to perform an analysis of exceptional quality.