what types of evidence does the writer use to support the ideas in the essay?
REMEMBER: Discussing the significance of your evidence develops and expands your paper!
In order to use evidence effectively, you need to integrate it smoothly into your essay by following this pattern:
Instructors in different academic fields expect different kinds of arguments and evidence—your chemistry paper might include graphs, charts, statistics, and other quantitative data as evidence, whereas your English paper might include passages from a novel, examples of recurring symbols, or discussions of characterization in the novel. Consider what kinds of sources and evidence you have seen in course readings and lectures. You may wish to see whether the Writing Center has a handout regarding the specific academic field you’re working in—for example, literature, sociology, or history.
This technique may be easiest to use with a partner. Ask your friend to take on one of the roles above, then read your paper aloud to him/her. After each section, pause and let your friend interrogate you. If your friend is playing devil’s advocate, he or she will always take the opposing viewpoint and force you to keep defending yourself. If your friend is acting like a child, he or she will question every sentence, even seemingly self-explanatory ones. If your friend is a doubter, he or she won’t believe anything you say. Justifying your position verbally or explaining yourself will force you to strengthen the evidence in your paper. If you already have enough evidence but haven’t connected it clearly enough to your main argument, explaining to your friend how the evidence is relevant or what it proves may help you to do so.
In analyzing evidence, it helps to have an idea of the different types that are out there. Then, you can classify the facts in what you are reading: pick which type(s) they belong to. Here are some of the most common types of evidence writers use to support their points:
- Numbers (for example, date and time, or any specific number or measurement: Length of a boat, number of witnesses, votes for a certain bill, score of a game, etc.)
- Statistics. Although technically just one form of number evidence, statistics are special enough to count as their own separate type of evidence, especially because they are so valuable at making evidence representative.
- Names (for example, place names, names of individuals, organizations, movements, etc.)
- Expert opinion (this refers to the use of someone elses knowledge or opinion, not that of the authorwhen the author quotes or mentions a recognized expert in the field)
- Specialized knowledge (the authors own knowledge, not common knowledge, usually acquired through some sort of formal training)
- Individual stories/examples, also known as anecdotal evidence (When the term anecdotal evidence is used, it is generally a negative or critical term suggesting that the evidence is not representative. Individual stories or examples, however, are often useful evidence.)
- Physical details (sense data)things you can see, hear, touch, smell or taste
- Dialogue (Speech of other people reported directly, exactly as spoken, usually with quotation marks [ ] around it and set off in separate paragraphs, one for each speaker. Technically this is a subset of physical detail, because it is something you can hear, but direct reporting of what people have said is important enough to be considered a separate category.)
- Documentary evidence (evidence from documents). This includes all of the following, among many others:
- Unpublished writings (early drafts of works published later; juvenile works by famous authors, etc.)
- Administrative policies, like the Washington Administrative Code
- Court decisions
- Speeches, interviews, and other statements by relevant people
Check the following sentence to see if you can recognise unsupported and supported facts:
In a standard essay, you can follow these general rules (i.e. rules may vary) about where you should put your evidence:
Keeping in mind your subject in relation to your audience will increase your chances of effectively illustrating your point.
- Use evidence that is appropriate to your topic as well as appropriate for your audience.
- Assess how much evidence you need to adequately explain your point depending on the complexity of the subject and the knowledge of your audience regarding that subject.