Books, journals, websites, newspapers, magazines, and documentary films are some of the most common sources of evidence for academic writing.
Our handout on evaluating print sources will help you choose your print sources wisely, and the library has a tutorial on evaluating both print sources and websites.
For writing in other fields, more informal experiments might be acceptable as evidence.
For example, if you want to prove that food choices in a cafeteria are affected by gender norms, you might ask classmates to undermine those norms on purpose and observe how others react.
Consider what kinds of sources and evidence you have seen in course readings and lectures.
You may wish to see whether the Writing Center has a handout regarding the specific academic field you’re working in—for example, literature, sociology, or history.What would happen if a football player were eating dinner with his teammates and he brought a small salad and diet drink to the table, all the while murmuring about his waistline and wondering how many fat grams the salad dressing contained?Using your own experiences can be a powerful way to appeal to your readers.It’s also a good idea to think over what has been said about the assignment in class and to talk with your instructor if you need clarification or guidance.Instructors in different academic fields expect different kinds of arguments and evidence—your chemistry paper might include graphs, charts, statistics, and other quantitative data as evidence, whereas your English paper might include passages from a novel, examples of recurring symbols, or discussions of characterization in the novel.What themes or topics come up in the text of the prompt?Our handout on understanding writing assignments can help you interpret your assignment.It’s important that you use the right kind of evidence, that you use it effectively, and that you have an appropriate amount of it.If, for example, your philosophy professor didn’t like it that you used a survey of public opinion as your primary evidence in your ethics paper, you need to find out more about what philosophers count as good evidence. ,” “go deeper,” or “expand” in the margins of your graded paper suggest that you may need more evidence.An interview is a good way to collect information that you can’t find through any other type of research.An interview can provide an expert’s opinion, biographical or first-hand experiences, and suggestions for further research.