Country Reports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson 10: What is Evidence?

We have tossed around the word "evidence" quite a lot. In this lesson, let's make sure you understand it.

But we are none of those things. At the moment we are in a social studies class, which makes us social scientists, which means that we are trying to "figure things out" about human societies. And for us, evidence consists primarily of the words that other people have written.

So we go online and we try to find articles in which some author or another has written something which "supports" our main claim (our thesis statement).

For example, Let's imagine that our thesis statement is "Greece is a wonderful vacation destination." In this case, our evidence might consist of a:

  1. Statistic
  2. Fact
  3. Phrase
  4. Complete sentence
  5. Several sentences
  6. Entire paragraph

Here are some examples:

 

Type of Evidence

Example
Statistic

Greece has more than 1,000 beaches.

Fact

The world-famous Parthenon is located in Athens.

Phrase

The seafood you'll find in coastal villages is always fresh and delicious.

Complete Sentence

Greek people are some of the friendliest people in the world.

Several Sentences

Athens is known for its ancient culture. Monuments built by the Ancient Greeks can be seen everywhere.

An Entire Paragraph

My favorite place in the whole world is Greece. When I went with my family last year, we had a fantastic time. The food was delicious and the prices were reasonable. I can't wait to go back!

 

 

In the case of statistics and facts, we put the sentence (that contains the statistic or fact) into our own words and put a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence to show the reader where we found that information.

In the case of phrases and sentences, we put quotation marks around the words that we want to "steal" (legally), and we also put a parenthtical citation at the end of the sentence to show the reader where those words came from.

This is called "quoting a source" and we often describe the words we have taken as "a quote."

Usually, the quotes we put in our own paper are the words of another author. In some cases, we may use the words of a third person who is quoted in the article we are reading. This is called "quoting a quote."

If all this seems obvious to you, good. However, all too often I have told a student, "You need to find a quote that supports your thesis," or I might say, "Your paper must include at least one quote," and then I'll watch as the student gets on a computer and does a Google search for "quotes about Greece."

This reveals that the student has misunderstood what I mean when I say "a quote." A quote could be anything that another author writes. The fact that you are taking those words—that's what makes it a quote. If those words already have quotation marks around them, that's fine too, as long as you cite it properly. But you don't need to find words that already have quotation marks around them. Anything can be a quote, if you quote it.

In short, searching for "quotes" is mostly a waste of time, as is going to websites devoted to clever quotes by famous people. Anybody's words on anybody's website can serve as evidence. You are the one who is going to put quotation marks around those words, and then you'll have a quote—hopefully a quote that supports your thesis.

Check Your Understanding

Be prepared to discuss your answers in class.

 
1.

What are some of the kinds of evidence that you can use to support your thesis?

2

What is the difference between "quoting a source" and "quoting a quote"?

2.

Congratulations! You're done with this lesson.