One example of a rhetorical analysis is an essay examining the types of appeals a writer or speaker uses to gain credibility with his audience. A rhetorical analysis may also feature an examination of a writer's likely values or customs based on the content of the writing.
Researchers employ rhetorical analysis in order to investigate commonalities and differences between texts and speakers, examine one text of speech in depth, and for other reasons that follow a research question.
A research question is what the researcher wants to find out during the analysis. The analysis includes a thesis and evidence of the findings that support the thesis. The final paper of the analysis must detail the methodology the researcher uses. The analysis typically provides the point of the rhetorical piece under examination, procedures and methods of the speaker, examples and an argument on effectiveness.
Writers and speakers use three different types of rhetorical appeals in attempt to gain credibility with their audiences. The first type of appeal is called the pathetic appeal. Rhetoricians invoke the pathetic appeal when they appeal to their audiences on an emotional level. A rhetorical analysis of a work that primarily utilizes the pathetic appeal might discuss the ways in which the rhetorician seeks to invoke feelings of anger or sadness in the audience. It may also point out how the author appeals to the audience's sense of compassion.
The second type of rhetorical appeal is called the ethical appeal. Rhetoricians use this appeal when they strive to win over their audiences by establishing themselves as good-natured or trustworthy people. Religious leaders, such as ministers and priests, often rely heavily on this form of appeal because their congregations view them as moral authorities.
The final type of appeal is the logical appeal. A rhetorical analysis of a work that involves logical appeal discusses the ways in which the rhetorician uses reason to convince the audience to accept her arguments.
Rhetorical analysis is usually qualitative, but counting words, phrases or themes makes the methodology quantitative. Writers publish rhetorical analyses in academic journals such as “Advances in the History of Rhetoric,” “Rhetoric Review,” “Rhetoric Society Quarterly,” “Rhetoric and Global Affairs” and “Rhetoric, Professional Communication, Globalization.”