Effectively Integrating Evidence
- Writing about Evidence
- Attribution to a Source
- Verbs of Attribution
- Using Quotations as Evidence
- How to Incorporate Quotations in Paragraphs
Writing About Evidence
Your paper's success depends on your ability to provide and explain evidence. Be specific in your discussion of the evidence: accurately convey the idea, data, or example and present your interpretation and explanation of the evidence in relation to your thesis.
Remember that specific evidence is strong evidence; avoid broad generalizations or vague ideas. Offer clear examples, detailed processes, numerical data, theoretical background, or other types of evidence.
Be intentional about your use of evidence. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What piece of evidence best demonstrates the idea I develop in this paragraph?
- Do I need to summarize (focus on the main point or finding), paraphrase (explain a particular detail), or directly quote this evidence?
- What important context do I need to identify to accurately and clearly write about this evidence?
- How does this piece of evidence demonstrate the idea?
- How does this evidence fit with other pieces of evidence?
Learn more: Effective Summarizing and Paraphrasing
Attribution to a Source
It is important to clearly identify the source of evidence in your writing. Of course, any evidence you use from another source must include a citation, but it is also common to make reference to a source within a sentence.
- Use the name of the author or authors. In CSE and APA format, a surname is typically used; however in MLA and Chicago, it is more usual to include a first name and surname in addition to position, if it is relevant (e.g., agricultural historian, Douglas McCalla or former Ontario premier, Bob Rae).
- Use the name of the source in disciplines like Classics, English, and Philosophy. This is not a common practice in the sciences or social sciences; instead use author names.
- Titles of books, journals, works of art, plays and movies should be italicized.
- Tiles of articles, chapters, and unpublished works should be put in quotation marks (double quotes).
Verbs of attribution
It is quite easy to fall into a rut with your word choice. This is most evident when you summarize or quote ideas from other sources: "Black writes . . . In addition, Lee and Green write . . . Finally, Khan writes . . . " or "Jay and colleagues looked at . . . " Try to vary your word choice and be more precise with your verbs of attribution or signal verbs. Consider the intent of the author(s): are they reporting, explaining, describing, measuring, listing, questioning, critiquing, or demanding? This will help you to get past the standard verbs like write, state, say, or look.
- adds, admits, affirms, argues,
- confirms, declares, insists,
- mentions, proposes, reports, states,
- reveals, suggests, thinks
More alternatives to "X writes":
- according to X
- in the opinion of X
Using Quotations as Evidence
When to use a direct quotation:
- when the writer's style or eloquence is so powerful that summarizing or paraphrasing would be significantly less effective.
- when the writer’s words give your argument validity and support.
- when you want to comment on, agree with, or take exception to what the writer has said.
- when you want to comment specifically on the writer’s choice of words.
Always link the quotation clearly and smoothly to your thoughts. Make sure you interpret or explain how the quotation illustrates your ideas. Never leave quotations to speak for themselves.
How to Incorporate Quotations into Your Writing
If quotations are to be effective, they must be carefully worked into your own sentences and paragraphs. It is important to ensure that quotations are introduced, commented on, and related to the controlling ideas of the paragraphs in which you place them.
There are many ways to introduce quotations.
The passage below is a direct quotation from Annette Tromly’s The Cover of the Mask: The Autobiographers in Charlotte Bronte’s Fiction. Following this are several examples illustrating how part of this passage may be incorporated into a writer’s own sentences.
"Jane’s most important relationship exists in that strange imaginative mid-region half-way between illusion and reality. The genesis of the relationship goes as far back as Gateshead. Enclosed in the Red Room, Jane is torn by opposition and dominated by her literary imagination." (Tromly 7).
The examples below simply report Tromly’s ideas, but they do so smoothly, and without abandoning the reader.
- Tromly argues that “Jane’s most important relationship exists in that strange imaginative mid-region half-way between illusion and reality.”
- According to Tromly, “Jane’s most important relationship exists in that strange imaginative mid-region half-way between illusion and reality.”
- “Jane’s most important relationship” occurs, in Tromly’s view, “half-way between illusion and reality.”
The next two examples make a direct comment on the material quoted:
- Tromly is wrong when she argues that “Jane’s most important relationship exists in that strange imaginative mid-region half-way between illusion and reality.”
- Tromly argues convincingly that Jane Eyre’s attachment to Rochester “exists in that strange imaginative mid-region half-way between illusion and reality.”
The last example places Tromly’s ideas in context by referring to other researchers’ treatment of the same topic:
All Bronte scholars agree with Tromly on one point: “Jane’s most important relationship exists in that strange imaginative mid-region half-way between illusion and reality.”