Presenting Your Evidence

First, a reminder about evidence. At the bottom of this page, note that this assignment is different than the initial assignment about evidence.


Evidence is material, acceptable to the audience, presented in support of claims.

There are some key features to attend to.

1. Evidence isn't just anything/everything you can find and present. If the material is not acceptable to the audience, it won't serve as support for claims, so doesn't stand as "evidence." Think of the courtroom analogy when a judge, for whatever reason, refuses to allow a piece of evidence to enter the case (even though the lawyers spent a lot of time finding/working up the evidence).

2. The acceptability of evidence depends on a number of factors, including

a. The reliability of the source. If the audience doesn't find the source "credible," the material provided by that source won't serve as evidence. For that to happen, the audience often has to know who/what the source is, how they know (why are they expert?), that they aren't overly biased on the issue (that they don't have a lot to gain from their position), and that the material has been taken from the source accurately and fully enough to not be "taken out of context" (among other tests).

b. The currency of the material. Although new material is not always better than old material (sometimes history matters and often background gives context to a question), not knowing about and presenting the most current information about the matter can serious undermine the credibility of the person making the claim and supporting it with old evidence.

c. The applicability of the evidence to the claim. We will look, later, at some of the ways evidence is applied to claims via reasoning/warrants. But for now, suffice to say that evidence is not just the material you present "after" making a claim. The audience will have to see the connection between the evidence and the claim. So in addition to the logical issues we'll take up later with reasoning/warrants, the evidence has to be appropriate to the kind of claim that you made. For example, if you've made a fact claim about the size of something, providing measurements as evidence fits better than providing a discussion of the quality of the materials used.

d. Presentation matters. As with everything in communication, if the material isn't presented clearly, the audience will have a difficult time applying the evidence to the claim the way(s) that you present evidence are crucial to their uptake and effects.

e. Documentation. Whenever evidence is used, it has to be presented following the normative "rules" of the genre in which it is presented. Courts have rules of evidence, medical diagnosis and treatment decisions are made based on satisfactoryly determined sets of symptoms. In scholarly writing, one has to provide clear indications for the sources of the material, otherwise, the audience might come to think that we are "just making it up" and "don't really know the facts of the matter" so might dismiss our claims. Documentation is tied to credibility.

There are many kinds of evidence. Including:

Expert Testimony: the quoted, spoken, words of a content expert on the matter of interest. Their "bona fides" (certified qualifications by degree and/or direct experience at high levels) matter.

Expert Quotation: the quoted, written words of a content expert on the matter of interest. Their "bona fides" (certified qualifications by degree and/or direct experience at high levels) matter.

One can also present testimony and/or quotation from sources that are not "expert." These could include reporters, participants, and witnesses. Obviously, as crediblity is lowered by lack of expertise, direct experience, or personal bias based on self-interest, the persuasive effects of the material are lowered.

Physical evidence: Material objects (when used in written papers, represented via pictures).

Scientific evidence: Reports of findings from scientific research, study, and testing. One has to be careful to present theories as theories rather than as fact. Remember that science "indicates," at (hopefully) high rates of certainty, rather than "proves."

Statistics and numerical analysis (including the charts/tables/graphs/spreadsheets that help audiences understand the numbers). The numbers represented could be actual counts or projections/interpolations (and which is the case, matters a lot).

Examples: stories of incidents. These range from eye witness news reports of events rendered by professional reporters to "tall tales" (almost fables) spun by "folks" who claim to have been there or who claim to "know." Obviously, the quality of the example as evidence varies based on the degree to which the events actually happened and the story through which the example is presented is accurate and believable. Hypothetical examples are usually very weak evidence, lending them more to story-telling than to argumentation. Personal examples are usually very weak, due to the obvious bias factor in that the person making the claim is also serving as the source for the evidence.

It's always good to remember that your evidence may lead to the audience being convinced of your claims because you've provided proof. It's NOT recommended that you conclude you've "proven" your claim. Providing proof (evidence) helps your audience decide about the claim; saying that you've "proven" it, often causes your audience to have to decide more about whether they want to go that far (it's been proven) than considering the validity of your claim.


When your reading summary is targeted at YOUR EVIDENCE, I want you to make two main point claims about the chapter(s) for this assignment and then present two pieces of evidence, drawn from the reading and its notes, in support of each of those claims. DO NOT USE MATERIAL NOT FOUND IN OUR BOOK

I want you to practice various ways to present evidence in your writing, so do this in full sentence, paragraph form. Lead the graph with your first main point claim, then present two pieces of evidence using proper (modified by my instructions) MLA reference form. See the reference/bibliographical format page. Repeat for the second main point.

Since all of the material comes from the book and you are going to indicate page numbers, you do not need to produce a reference section for the assignment.

In the course of the assignment, produce one example of using evidence in each of the following ways. Label each instance for the type you are doing (see first instance below:
Evidence  (Passage  from an article or book, presented in an other book). If you don't label each, I won't count them.

1) Author's name in text.

2) Title of the material in text, author's name in reference.

3) Passage from an article or book, presented in an other book.

4) Online source with numbered paragraph.

You are to find material supporting each of these usages within the assigned reading. The material for this assignment is the chapter you read or its notes or reference section at the end of the book. You are making 2 claims about the reading and supporting those claims with evidence you find within the reading, presenting that evidence in 4 slightly different ways.


Evidence (and which of the 1 types, above, are you exemplifying?)

Present the material in one of the four styles.

Repeat for a total of 4 items per chapter.

An example:

First, summarize the chapter. (no example of that here)

My Evidence

Chapter 12

Claim:  The Internet was envisioned to give individuals a greater degree of control unknown in a communication system. Here Licklider from his work “Man-Computer Symbiosis” tells his dreams for greater communications.   

Evidence  (Passage  from an article or book, presented in an other book)

Licklider notes that “The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought” (Wu 171).


Evidence (Author’s name in text)

Wu showed that the Internet was to improve communication because we now use it in our every day lives, as a thinking aid, an organizer, and a way to keep track of our friends (172).

[in the case of this example, two chapters were used. Your assignment might only include one chapter]

Chapter 15

Claim: AT&T could not control the Internet.

Evidence (Title of material in text, author’s name in reference)

In The Master Switch, we see that even though AT&T provided the infrastructure, they did not monopolize the Internet. They initially did not want to compete with themselves and when they finally decided to "get in," Internet pioneers chose TCP/IP over AT&T's protocol. (Wu  199-203).



According to Vinton Cerf, AT&T was skeptical that ARPANET would work: “The demo was a roaring success, much to the surprise of the people at AT&T who were skeptical about whether it would work.” (Wu, 198).