College writing often requires evidence, which is commonly referred to as grounds. Evidence can come in many forms: statistics, observations, testimonies, anecdotes, court cases, observations and expert opinions. A student should always consult his/her writing prompt for details about what sort of evidence his/her professor requires.
Students can use the STAR Criteria to determine whether or not the evidence they are consulting is efficient.
Do not forget to consider currency. Is the evidence too outdated? It is also very important for students to consider their audience. Does, for example, the audience need a lot of background? Also, what objections might the audience have in mind?
Depending on the specifics of the assignment, students could use scholarly books, scholarly journal articles, newspapers, documentary films, certain websites (usually ones associated with universities or research entities), and even court cases.
Students could also use online databases through Knight Capron Library. Moreover, librarians are always willing to help students with research appointments.
Primary sources are original documents. Primary sources could include personal journals, results from scientific studies, records, and photographs. Secondary sources are sources that discuss original documents; they are sources that often work to interpret, to dissect, or to make an argument about original sources.
For example, secondary sources could include literary criticisms, a discussion of the results of a scientific study, or even reviews about books. Students should always follow their instructors’ directions about which type of sources are allowable.
Evidence cannot merely be dropped in a paragraph of an essay; it must be discussed, and its relevance must be fully explained.
Students can think of evidence the way philosopher Stephen Toulmin thought of evidence: the audience-based courtroom model. Essentially, students should introduce evidence (with a signal phrase) and should provide the evidence. Once the student has quoted, paraphrased, or summarized the evidence, he/she must provide an inner-text citation using his/her professor’s required format. After citing the work, the student must discuss the evidence.
For example, how does the evidence relate to the essay’s claim? What is its relevance? Why should the essay’s audience value the evidence?
Students should quote if they are relaying an expert’s opinion or testimony. Quoting is also helpful if a student cannot adequately recreate—using their own words—the evidence they are using. Be mindful not to overly quote; the student’s voice can be lost, and the paper can become a copy-and-paste compilation. Also, do not distort a quote. Always be fair to the original context of a quote.
Summarizing is a very important skill to possess. A summary is an overview of a larger piece of writing. Summaries often help save space, and students frequently summarize opposing points of view in order to avoid giving the opposition a great deal of space in an essay.
Paraphrasing involves recreating a smaller passage of a source by using the writer’s own words and style. Paraphrasing helps incorporate a specific idea or claim from another source without having to quote the source.
- Ramage, John. D, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2012. Print.