The use of supporting evidence is a characteristic feature of academic writing. Once you have introduced your claim, you need to back it up. It allows you to strengthen your claims and prove that they are true.
Generalizations and unsupported facts have no credibility in the academic world. Therefore, supporting evidence is a compulsory element in a college essay format. You can use evidence to support your opinion or refute opposing evidence, strengthening your stance. This article will help you to choose the right type of evidence and incorporate it into your writing.
Types of Evidence
Here are five types of evidence that you can use in academic writing:
- Anecdotal evidence. This category includes interviews, reflection on personal experience, letters, and case studies. You can use anecdotal evidence to catch the readers’ attention and stir up their interest.
- Testimonial evidence. Use testimonial evidence when you need an expert opinion to prove that your claims are true. It includes quotes from peer-reviewed journals, interviews, and information from credible print sources.
- Statistical evidence. It works both to hook the reader in the opening paragraph and to introduce support in the body of your paper. However, you should double-check the source of measurements and numbers and make sure it is reputable.
- Analogical evidence. It is not the most powerful source of evidence, but it can work if you make a strong case. Its essence is in comparing the discussed issue with a known situation, pointing out similarities between the two. Analogical evidence comes from peer-reviewed journals, historical events, and expert opinions.
How to Choose and Evaluate Evidence
To choose relevant support for your paper, you need to understand the purpose of the assignment and collect the relevant type of evidence after careful evaluation. The type of evidence should correspond to the subject area. Besides, your instructor may ask you to use a certain book or article.
For example, you can include charts and quantitative data in a science paper. In contrast, when you write a review of the musical In the Heights, you can use interviews with the creators as well as experts’ quotes, excerpts from the songs, and your personal experience.
It is also important to evaluate evidence carefully. The following checklist will help you find valid and reliable evidence:
- Is the source of evidence reputable?
- Who is the author? Is he or she qualified enough?
- Is the author biased?
- Is the evidence sufficient?
- Is the evidence up-to-date?
- Does the evidence represent the discussed issue accurately?
- Is it a primary source of evidence?
- Does the evidence illustrate your claim?
How to Incorporate Evidence in Your Essay
You can use either quotation or paraphrased information to support your claims. However, some instructors might require you to use only paraphrases in your papers. Thus, always check whether direct quotations are allowed. If you are not sure, a safe way is to explain the idea in your own words and provide a signal phrase.
An important part of incorporating evidence in your writing is to create an in-text citation that will help the reader to locate the source. It allows you to give credit to the original author and avoid plagiarism.
Where to use supporting evidence? In a 5 paragraph essay outline, supporting evidence appears in all three paragraphs of the body. It follows the topic sentence and proves that the mentioned claim is true and trustworthy. Moreover, if your paper is college level and higher, you need to use several types of evidence to prove each of your claims. Keep in mind that you should also comment on every piece of evidence that you provide to explain its relevance to the discussed issue.
Take a look at the traditional outline of the body paragraph:
- Topic sentence
- Evidence #1 supporting the claim and comments on it
- Evidence #2
- Evidence #…
- Concluding sentence
Sometimes you might need to address opposing ideas as well. For example, in an argumentative essay format, you need to find evidence to refute opposing ideas. It means that you have to address a point of view that disputes your argument. To incorporate opposing ideas and prove them wrong with evidence, use the following outline:
- Arguments your opponents might have;
- Explanation of their point of view;
- Refutation (i.e., evidence and explanation why your argument is the correct one).
In some cases, statistics or quotes can appear in the introductory paragraph as a hook. However, the general recommendation is to avoid referencing in this part of a paper. Additionally, supporting evidence should not appear in the conclusion as it is the paragraph where you summarize your points without introducing any new information. This makes evidence unnecessary in that part.
Using supporting evidence is a basic skill that every student needs. It teaches you how to work with sources and how to use them responsibly. To write a top-notch essay, use different types of evidence to support your claims. It will prove your point and show that you have done your research. Choose only credible sources, and do not forget to document them and provide adequate in-text citations.