Chapter 9: Research and Evidence
Research is integrated and presented in a text as evidence. The text can be an essay or speech outline that you have written. Written text can also include a computer generated presentation like a slide show. The text can also be verbal and include a speech or presentation. It doesn’t matter what text you comprise, you need to incorporate your research. The varied ways that you incorporate your research can help you plan, organize, and deliver your evidence more effectively. Choices you make for integrating and presenting your information depend upon the message you want to convey. There are 4 ways that you can integrate evidence: definitions, examples, facts and statistics, and testimony.
A definition is aformal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc.. There are different types of definitions and ways to think about defining a term. Thinking about how the word is used in our language can determine if we want a common meaning or want to use a word more strategically based on how people think about the use of the word. We know there is the denotative or dictionary definition — the literal meaning of the word. There is the connotative definition — the associated meaning of the word based on our world view and experiences. There are more formal ideas about how to define terms such as the etymological definition, or how the word is defined by the word’s origin or history. Definitions provide clarity to complex ideas, jargon, or slang.
An example is a characteristic of its kind or illustrates a general rule. They can be brief, extended, or hypothetical. A briefexample is short and generally adds clarity by providing a detail or characteristic of a piece of information. Examples add relevance by discussing what is current or familiar to the audience as a way to connect information. For example, using a genre of music as an example of what music you listen to in your free time allows the audience to determine similarities, differences, or lack of exposure and experience. An extendedexample, or narrative, provides an anecdote or story that relays a more vivid and textured example of a situation, experience, or context surrounding your topic. An extended example often serves as an illustration of an idea. If you are presenting a persuasive speech on local services, you can use an article from a local paper to help the audience visualize how the problem impacts their lives. Hypotheticalexamples convey ideas that are common, known, or sensitive in nature that is imagined to depict realistic scenarios. Since a hypothetical example does not have to be connected to a specific person, time, or place, hypothetical examples allow an audience to think introspectively about how they would react or respond in the situation.
A fact is a piece of information used as evidence known or proved to be true. A statistic is a piece of data from a study of a large quantity of numerical data.a. Facts and statistics can be used to present new ideas or reinforce current ideas or to confirm or disprove information. Data and statistics help audiences consider a topic from a more informed standpoint and help further reasoning. There are, however, some constraints to using statistics efficiently. When used accurately, facts and statistics can present a clear and purposeful message that creates a sense of immediacy in relationship to a topic. When used poorly, facts and statistics can result in information overload or confusion.
When evaluating facts and statistics, it is important to ask the following questions to allow for better understanding.
- Is the Source Reliable?
- Is there Manipulation or Distortion?
- Is the statistic Representative (Sample Size)?
- Is the Math Correct (Mean/ average, Median/ middle, or Mode/ frequency)?
It is equally important to present statistics, numerical data, accurately. Introducing statistics as a quantity or rounding the numbers will aid the cognitive process when trying to convey the impact of large numbers. While a large blanket number may be hard to understand, the use of values like “one in three” or an illustration like “five football stadiums long” can present a more simplified, recognizable figure. Combining figures can show seriousness or magnitude of a problem or issue. While you do want to think about your main ideas to be illustrated, statistics should be used sparingly. The audience cannot remember all the information provided and will need to select information based on its goals and needs. Identify the source, cite the author, present a clear idea of where the information comes from, and ensure the audience of the source’s reliability. Explain and clarify the research by providing an interpretation of how the statistic is being applied and how it helps our understanding of the larger topic. Use visuals to help simplify the information and to bolster your audience’s interest.
Testimony is a formal written or spoken statement. It can be expert or peer-based. The type of testimony you provide has much to do with your topic or the desired audience outcome. Experts are people who are acknowledged authorities in their fields.Peers are people like ourselves; not prominent figures, but ordinary citizens who have the first-hand experience on a topic. It is important that when you present testimony, you consider the authority of the source. Celebrity or athletic endorsements may not be as trusted or credible as professional endorsements. Always credit the author and include their credentials or qualifications to build that credibility and strengthen the source. You can think back to the introduction on personal and professional experience to understand these two types of testimony better.
The tone of your connection can sometimes benefit from peer testimony. Let’s look at our scenario from the introduction of the chapter. If we follow a travel guide or food channel to determine the best restaurants in Alaska, we would have a pretty impressive list. However, would we be able to afford them? Would it be feasible or possible for us to travel to remote areas to visit them all? A trusted friend that lives there may know of a restaurant that is not in any guide but is an affordable, hidden gem.
We integrate testimony as support by either quoting or paraphrasing our original source. Quoting is presenting a message word-for-word, exactly as it was written or stated. Quoting works best when the quote is short and not drawn out, or when the meaning is better conveyed through language or literary technique. When quoting a source, be sure that you are delivering the quote with the correct meaning or intent and presenting the context in which the quote was used. Paraphrasing is restating or summarizing in one’s own words what another person had said. Paraphrase when the quote is long, difficult to understand, or jargon-heavy. There are a few tips to paraphrase accurately (but remember, you must still cite the original source when paraphrasing):
- Change the words. Identify the key words that are not your own vocabulary or stand out and change them to reflect your own personality and voice.
- Edit the quote. Identify areas that you can leave out or add-to in order to make the information helpful to your audience.
- Re-structure the quote. Can you move the beginning to the middle or to the end? Is the paraphrased information better if you start with the last sentence’s idea and work backward to the introduction? Could the body of the quote serve as steps or claims that you can present in order?
- For a guide on how to paraphrase, check out this site.
Identifying Evidence Types and Use Chart
|Evidence Type||Reason and Use|