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Including evidence in a paper

Including evidence in a paper

Author: Linda Neuman


To explain how to incorporate relevant evidence in to a paper.

To explain different types of evidence (e.g. examples, anecdotes, facts, etc.)

This packet should help a learner who wants to understand how to write a paper and who is confused about how to incorporate evidence. It will explain how incorporating evidence helps to strengthen a paper.


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Introduction: Different types of evidence for your paper

This slide show will introduce you to a variety of evidence types. It also covers primary and secondary sources, issues of appropriateness and credibility, and tips on when and how to use your evidence.

How do I choose the best evidence to prove my point?

Decisions, decisions.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself about a particular bit of evidence. Answering them may help you explain how your evidence is related to your overall argument:

  1. OK, I've just stated this point, but so what? Why is it interesting? Why should anyone care?
  2. What does this information imply?
  3. What are the consequences (both good and bad) of thinking this way or looking at a problem this way?
  4. I've just described what something is like (or how I see it), but why is it like that?
  5. I've just said that something happens, but how does it happen? How does it come to be the way it is?
  6. How is this idea related to my thesis? What connections exist between them? Does it support my thesis? If so, how does it do that?
  7. Should I give an example or use an analogy to illustrate this point?

Don't rely on a certain type of evidence throughout your paper.  Everything you point out doesn't need an analogy.  Save those for the complex points, when your readers will appreciate an easier way to look at it and understand it.  

Do I have enough evidence?

This audio presentation explains three handy tips for the revision stage of your paper.

Conclusion: Make it convincing

That's the way it is.

Whether you are writing to inform or convince, you will need evidence to back up your claims.  Remember there are many different types, and each type serves a different purpose.  In most papers, you will want to use at least two different types.

Become an expert on reliable sources, but until that time rely on your instructors and recommendations for websites that can help you weed out the iffy source material.

Make sure you have enough.  Here are three handy tips for revising your paper:

1.  Make a Reverse Outline

  • Number every paragraph
  • Briefly describe the main idea of each paragraph (there should be only one per paragraph)
  • Jot down each piece of evidence you provided  in that paragraph to support that point

2,  Color Code Your Paper

  • Three colors:  1)  general assertions  2)  evidence  3)  your own analysis
  • Try for equal amounts of evidence and analysis

3.    Play Devil’s Advocate with a Friend

  • Read your paper aloud to a friend
  • Allow your friend to question everything
  • Look for places where more evidence or more clarity is needed