Unlike the TRIAC paragraph structure, which starts with a claim about a topic, considers evidence, and then explores significance, the Observation-Implication-Conclusion (OIC) pattern starts with evidence, moves to significance, and then draws conclusions. Click here for a narrative version of OIC.
Use TRIAC when you think your reader will tentatively accept your initial claim before considering your evidence. Use OIC when you think your reader will be reluctant to accept your claim as your starting point, or you want to derive your claim from evidence.
Observation: What interesting, strange, or revealing pattern do you notice in the world, or in your sources?
Describe it, then ask: So What?
Implication: If these observations are true, what else must be true as a result of them?
Complication [use if you want to counter]: What counter-evidence casts doubt on the trend?
Ask: So What?
Conclusion: What should your reader think about the pattern?
[OBSERVATION] Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of hand wringing about the narcissism of Millenials. Representative of this trend is Time magazine journalist Jeffrey Kluger’s 2014 characterization of Gen Y as selfish, egotistical, and entitled (The Narcissist Next Door). Likewise a recent PEW Research Center report finds that Millennials are “decidedly less tapped into political parties, organized religion, marriage, and other traditional institutions than are their older counterparts” (reported in Foster n.p.). [IMPLICATION] If these observations are true, this trend has deep implications as supposedly self-absorbed Millenials take their place in society as employees, parents, and voters. We can expect declining productivity, children who are less resilient and more difficult to teach, and an ever-more-divided electorate. [COMPLICATION] However, many of these articles depend on research conducted by sociologist Jean M. Twenge, who, on the basis of data gathered on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), concluded that narcissistic behavior has risen 30 percent among young people. But Clark University psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett argues that her conclusion is “flimsy” because NPI results “leave quite a bit up to interpretation” (qtd. in Foster n. p.). [CONCLUSION] Until Twenge’s conclusions are confirmed, and we see clear effects of societal narcissism, we should refrain from smearing a generation that values difference, fairness, and sees doing good as more important than making money.