Your papers are likely to be equally divided between explaining the causes of some problem or explaining the effects; either way, the first thing to establish is the nature and reality of that problem. For that you need reliable statistics/facts from recognized authorities. Avoid citing information from a .com, and be very discriminating about using information from a .org. Parenthetical citations are required here and throughout the essay. A separate Works Cited page must be the last page of the essay. The Bedford Handbook has helpful information on introductions and paragraphing. Please refer to it.
You must conclude your introductory paragraph with a thesis statement listing the causes/effects of the problem you have identified and supported. For example, “The teen pregnancy rate in Texas is comparatively high because of causes w, x, y, and z.” Please refer to the sample paper.
The second paragraph (referred to as a support paragraph) must show how the first cause listed in your thesis, cause w, contributes to teen pregnancy. The next support paragraph must focus on cause x, the next on cause y, and the final support paragraph on cause z.
For each of these support paragraphs, make sure you accomplish the following:
Begin with a topic sentence that connects with some aspect of the thesis (in this case, one of the causes) and expresses the new paragraph’s controlling idea.
Make sure each sentence in the paragraph relates/refers to the topic sentence. That is, if a sentence isn’t relevant to the first sentence, cut it.
“Hook” the end of one sentence to the beginning of the next by using logic, sequence, process, synonyms, repetition, this/these + noun, transition words, and the passive voice.
Close the paragraph by summarizing your point, showing how it supports your thesis, and setting up the next paragraph.
For an essay as short as this one, there’s no need to repeat your argument. Probably the best way to close is by briefly listing the negative effects of (say) teen pregnancy, and then making a plea for future action that will weaken/eliminate the causes of the problem.
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