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1. Evidence in essays is the information you put forward to support your argument(s). This might be items of data or the illustrative examples which demonstrate the validity of your claims.
2. This evidence might be statistical data [51% of the population is female] illustrative examples [Milton’s ‘On his Blindness’ and Wordsworth’s ‘On Westminster Bridge’ are both written in sonnet form] or experimental results [Four out of the five control groups failed to meet these targets].
3. Many academic essays are normally concerned with the detailed inspection of evidence. A proposition is asserted, but then it must be substantiated by examples which are analysed and discussed.
4. Evidence might sometimes be a detailed selection of points from a body of data under consideration. For instance, in making a historical analysis of a subject, your particular selection of its chronological details might form the evidence supporting your argument.
5. In other essays, the evidence might have to be assembled or discovered as part of the examination of the subject. A project on urban traffic density or on public opinion regarding divorce for instance might require practical research to compile statistics.
6. Many subjects require the study of what are called ‘set texts’. That is, books which have come to be regarded as standard works on their subject:
- Richard G. Lipsey, Positive Economics
- Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
- Charles Dickens, Bleak House
- Ernst Gombricht, The Story of Art
- Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things
7. Essays, term papers, and assignments set in these subject require a close examination of these set texts, and the evidence used in your arguments will be drawn from the texts to show your understanding of them.
© Roy Johnson 2003