Last updated 11/8/2016
Visual: The screen shows the Walden University Writing Center logo along with a pencil and notebook. “Walden University Writing Center.” “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. The background changes to the title of the video with open books in the background.
Audio: Guitar music plays.
Visual: Slide changes to the title “The MEAL Plan” and the following:
Elements or components needed in an academic paragraph
Main Idea: Topic sentence
Evidence: Paraphrase or quote
Analysis: Explanation, interpretation, or adding to the evidence
Lead Out: Summarizing and concluding the paragraph
Audio: So analysis and evidence both occur, not, you know, in a vacuum, right? They both occur within paragraphs. Now, the MEAL plan is a way to conceptualize paragraphs. It's just meant to conceptualize the elements that need to be present in an academic paragraph.
So the MEAL plan is four parts--M, E, A, L. And it stands for the four components that have to be present in a paragraph. Now, I don't mean sentences, but components. So bear with me here if this is new to you. So a paragraph should always start with the main idea or topic sentence. It should always include both evidence and analysis--evidence and analysis are paired together. Because if we have a paragraph that's all evidence, then we're missing that analysis, right? We don't have the author's voice, it's just summary. If we have a paragraph that's all analysis, without any evidence, that's where we get into opinion. Because in academic writing, we always want to support our ideas with evidence. And that's what makes it analysis is when we pair our ideas with evidence. If we just have our ideas, then it's just opinion, right? So we always have to pair evidence and analysis. And then we also need to summarize or conclude the paragraph with some sort of lead out sentence.
Now, I have to say, sometimes a main idea has a little bit of analysis or evidence in it, or sometimes a lead out or concluding sentence has a little bit of analysis in it, and that's okay. Those kinds of lines can be a little bit blurry, depending on the paragraph. So that's okay, too. But you always need to have some sort of element of each of these in a paragraph.
Visual: The following sample order of the MEAL plan elements is added to the slide:
Sample paragraph construction:
Audio: And that's why I said that it's not each sentence because we don't have paragraphs in academic writing that are always one sentence of each of these, right? That's not what we're advocating for here at the Writing Center.
But instead, you're always going to start a paragraph with some sort of main idea or topic sentence. And then you might switch out different numbers or combinations of evidence and analysis. So you can see in this sample paragraph, we start with the main idea, and then we might have evidence, then we might have analysis, then back to evidence, two more sentences of analysis, and then our lead out sentence. Right?
So that's just one way we might construct a paragraph. We might have another paragraph that has a main idea, then analysis, and then three sentences of evidence, and another analysis, and then a lead out. So you can see how we just need to have each part of these.
Visual: “Walden University Writing Center. Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org” appears in center of screen.