Determining Textual Evidence

To better evaluate the author’s argument, you should be able to determine the evidence from the text. This will allow you to validate the assertions of the author and your own counterclaims as a response to reading. Evidence is defined as the details given by the author to support his/her claim. The evidence provided by the writer substantiates the text. It reveals and builds on the position of the writer and makes the reading more interesting. Evidence is crucial in swaying the reader to your side. A jury or judge, for example, relies on the evidence presented by a lawyer before it makes a decision regarding a case.

Evidence can include the following:

  • facts and statistics (objectively validated information on your subject);
  • opinion from experts (leading authorities on a topic, such as researchers or academics); and
  • personal anecdotes (generalizable, relevant, and objectively considered).

The following are some questions to help you determine evidence from the text:

  • What questions can you ask about the claims?
  • Which details in the text answer your questions?
  • What are the most important details in the paragraph?
  • What is each one’s relationship to the claim?
  • How does the given detail reinforce the claim?
  • What details do you find interesting? Why?
  • What are some claims that do not seem to have support? What kinds of support could they be provided with?
  • What are some details that you find questionable? Why do you think so?
  • Are some details outdated, inaccurate, exaggerated, or taken out of context?
  • Are the sources reliable?

The following are the characteristics of good evidence:

  1. unified;
  2. relevant to the central point;
  3. specific and concrete;
  4. accurate; and
  5. representative or typical.