Your essay may discuss only the causes, the results, or both the causes and results. Once you have decided if you are going to focus on causes, effects or both, you need to keep the following in mind:
You need to research the events and search for many causes to be sure that you’re only stating the obvious.
When writing a cause and effect essay, take the time to research the causes. Don’t select the obvious cause without first doing substantial research to be sure that you are not missing any other causes.
Be aware that just because something occurs before something else it does not mean there is a cause and effect relationship.
When you confuse event sequencing for causality, you’re engaging in Post Hoc Reasoning. A simple way to understand Post Hoc Reasoning is to think about superstitions. For example, if you wore a new sweater the day you aced your exam, you may decide to wear that sweater every time you take an exam. You may believe that the sweater led you to ace the exam, but a causal relationship has not been established. The chronology is you wore the sweater and did well on the exam. However, you cannot prove that you did well on the exam because of the sweater.
Once you are positive of a cause, you should follow chronological sequencing.
Once you’re sure that a causal relationship has been established, you should list the definite causes in sequential (chronological) order. When you explain to your reader which event happened before another, you help him or her better understand the causes and effects.
There can be an immediate cause and a remote cause of an effect.
If there is one, discuss a causal chain (one event leads to another that leads to another).
A causal chain can help you organize your essay and explain your thesis. If you have done the appropriate research and have found causality among events, you can see whether a causal chain has developed. A causal chain occurs when one event leads to a result and that result leads to another result. Be sure that you don’t leave out any of the events in the chain and be sure that you’re following proper sequencing.
The Education Oasis website has many downloadable graphic organizers that can help you organize your cause and effect essay.