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Analysis of Evidence

Analysis of Evidence

Author: Martina Shabram

In this lesson, students will learn how to analyze evidence.

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Introduction to Psychology

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Source: [image of pyramid, public domain, http://bit.ly/1PXuP56]

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Hello, students. My name is Dr. Martina Shabram, and I will be your instructor for today's lesson. I'm genuinely excited to teach you these concepts. So let's get started.

We're going to get into the nitty-gritty specifics of integrating evidence into essays. We'll discuss introducing evidence with context, translating meaning, and providing analysis. So let's get started.

First things first, recall that evidence is facts and details that support an argument. And we know that you can use personal evidence or researched evidence. In this tutorial, we're specifically going to think about how we integrate quotations from research sources.

But the principles that we practice today are just as important when you're integrating personal narratives, summaries of big ideas, and paraphrased concepts. So you can apply this across the board. Let's get into the rules for integrating evidence effectively. Each piece of evidence must be introduced with context, translated for clarity, and analyzed directly.

For the tip-top of the pyramid, we have context. Context is an explanation of the circumstances of a piece of text. Let's say you're reading an argument and you see this quote.

What do you need to know in order to understand what this means and how it fits into your argument? Right away we know that this needs a citation, right? So let's amend this quotation like this.

Now we have an APA style in text citation. Good start for context. But does that citation tell us much about Smith's argument? No. I mean, we don't know who Smith is or why this is a worthwhile piece of evidence. Answering those questions in brief is the main purpose of context. So we could further amend our quotation.

Notice how now our reader knows who Smith is and why she is a worthy, valid source, making this a much more convincing appeal to ethos. Using the author's name like this is called a signal phrase, which is a phrase proceeding a quotation that signals the author of the quoted text.

Context can also help us make sentences, including quotations, clearer. For example, we could take this quote, and using context we could create this much more specific sentence. Because we're integrating with clear context, we're able to only use the part of the quote that's necessary to make our point. And we've cut out everything else that could be distracting for our readers.

Now, this is fine. You don't have to quote an author's entire sentence. You can select the portion that is most important for you, as long as you don't change the author's original meaning. So the overall goal of context then, as you can see in these two examples, is to give a brief introduction to the author, the work being cited, or the ideas being quoted. And this should be very brief. No more than a sentence or so.

Next, we need translation. When we're translating, we're telling our readers what we think the quotation means. This is important because two readers can interpret this same passage in two different ways. And we want each reader to interpret that passage the way we have.

So after we've given a quotation, we say something like, "This means that." And then we restate the quotation in our own words. Let's see an example.

Here we have a paragraph presenting some important data. You can see the context and two different quotes. But what does this all mean? Well, we need a translation sentence here, which might look something like this.

That one little sentence assures that our readers will know exactly what we think this evidence means. Therefore, translation is especially important if you're presenting lots of technical, complex, or very detailed evidence and need to make sure that your reader understands.

Analysis is the most important part. Analysis is detailed explanations of an idea and interpretations of its intended meaning within a piece of writing. So analysis is where we say how a piece of evidence supports our main point.

Let's go back to our previous paragraph. And let's say that the thesis statement of this essay is-- so here's your question, how do these sentences in this short paragraph support that main point? Well, right now, we could make a lot of guesses. But as readers, we don't know yet exactly how this evidence proves that employee dress codes shouldn't include prohibitions on tattoos.

So if you were writing this essay you wouldn't yet have convinced your readers to believe your side. What you would need in order to convince your readers is analysis. A nice way to begin your analysis is with the word "therefore." That might look something like this.

See how now this piece of evidence is directly linked to the main point? So when you're working on your analysis, remember to ask yourself, what am I hoping this piece of evidence will prove to my reader? And why or how does this piece of evidence prove that point? You can even brainstorm your analysis by finishing the sentence, "This proves that."

So now it's your turn. Here is a short paragraph. Take a moment to pause and read this paragraph, making note of the context, translation, and analysis that you see. And then decide, based on this paragraph, what do you think the main point of the essay is? Pause now and come back when you're done.

So what's the main point? You probably wrote something like, "Workplaces should be allowed to prohibit tattoos in employee dress codes." Let's break it down, though.

In the context, notice that we introduced the evidence a little differently than we have in our previous examples. Here, the essay is making an argument against tattoos. So the context places emphasis on a different aspect of this quotation. You can see, , then, that the same evidence can be used to support different arguments.

Next, the translation, likewise, points out the long history of negative associations with tattoos. Assuring that readers will focus on the many years where tattoos were taboo and not on the recent change in their status, as the previous examples have.

Finally, the analysis shows how these ongoing negative associations might hurt business. Overall then, this paragraph uses the same evidence, but because it provides clear context, translation, and analysis, it makes a convincing argument for the opposite side.

So what did we learn today? We discussed the three essential elements of integrating evidence- providing context, translating meaning, and performing analysis. We looked at examples of arguments that use evidence to support their main points and convince readers. Well, students, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you.

Notes on "Analysis of Evidence"

(00:00 – 00:09) Introduction

(00:10 – 00:24) What are we going to learn today?

(00:25 – 01:07) Integrating Evidence

(01:08 – 03:22) Context

(03:23 – 04:37) Translation

(04:38 – 06:13) Analysis

(06:14 – 07:47) Integration Practice

(07:48 – 08:10) Recap and Goodbye

  • Context

    An explanation of the circumstances of a piece of text.

  • Translation

    Telling readers what a text means; interpreting a quotation.

  • Analysis

    Detailed explanations of an idea and interpretations of its intended meaning within a piece of writing; showing how a piece of evidence supports your main point.

  • Signal Phrase

    A phrase preceding a quotation that signals the author of the quoted text.