More on Evidence: Making Choices

Your response is only as good as your evidence, and your effectiveness as a response writer, your authority as it is sometimes called, will depend in large part upon your evidence. The kind of evidence you choose to use will vary according to the thesis you are proposing and the subject you are addressing. If, for instance, you are comparing two texts, then some of your evidence will be drawn from each of those texts and will no doubt require summary of both texts.

In general, a response is only as good as its understanding of the text being responded to. Therefore, thorough familiarity with the text is absolutely necessary, and the text itself provides the first and most important evidence for your thesis. Beyond that, however, your own experiences, observations, and knowledge can inform your thesis. Information gleaned from additional sources and experts in the field can form a further pillar of support.

When you select the evidence that best contributes to and develops your thesis, remember that simple summary at this point will not do. Rather, analysis of the material is needed. You are always endeavoring to explain how the evidence contributes to or develops your thesis, your line of thinking.

Further, strive to be both concrete and analytical. Refer back frequently to the text itself, providing brief, concrete details from the text to support your thesis. From these concrete pieces of evidence, derive analytical conclusions. As you write from these analytical conclusions, provide ample examples from the text, clarifying how those examples support your thesis. Strive to be thorough but not repetitive.

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