Acceptable Academic Evidence
Acceptable academic evidence depends a great deal on to whom it is going to be presented, the field in which they work, and the focus and goals of the position being argued. To be convincing it must be founded on fact, well reasoned, logical, and stand up against opposing arguments. Included will be a mix of facts, research findings, quotes, experience and the work of other people.
Logical and textual evidence is generally considered to be more authoritative-stronger and more convincing-than anecdotal evidence or emotional appeals. For it to be academically acceptable, the evidence must meet certain criteria:
- Evidence Must Come from a Reputable Source: Just because someone has written on a topic or issue doesn't mean your audience considers them an authority. Authority is judged by how much experience a source has, the viability of their research methods, and their prior reputation.
- Evidence Must Emerge from Acceptable Research Methods: If you are using any form of quantitative or qualitative research, look closely at the methods. A survey of 5 people is hardly persuasive. A survey of 100 may be acceptable in a sociology class, but not authoritative to an audience of scientists.
- Evidence must be Replicable: If you use an original study, replicating the same conditions and methods should produce the same results. Using the same sources, the same information should be found. Personal experience and observation are hard to replicate, however. The onus to be ethical and honest is on the author.
- Evidence Must be Authoritative and Factual: What counts as factual varies widely from discipline to discipline. Personal experience may be valued in a Women's Studies class, but it won't meet the criteria for a science paper. Your audience must consider all your evidence and sources authoritative.