Types Of Evidence In Research Papers

In analyzing evidence, it helps to have an idea of the different types that are out there. Then, you can classify the facts in what you are reading: pick which type(s) they belong to. Here are some of the most common types of evidence writers use to support their points:

  • Numbers (for example, date and time, or any specific number or measurement: Length of a boat, number of witnesses, votes for a certain bill, score of a game, etc.)
    • Statistics. Although technically just one form of number evidence, statistics are special enough to count as their own separate type of evidence, especially because they are so valuable at making evidence representative.
  • Names (for example, place names, names of individuals, organizations, movements, etc.)
  • Expert opinion (this refers to the use of someone else’s knowledge or opinion, not that of the author—when the author quotes or mentions a recognized expert in the field)
  • Specialized knowledge (the author’s own knowledge, not common knowledge, usually acquired through some sort of formal training)
  • Individual stories/examples, also known as anecdotal evidence (When the term “anecdotal” evidence is used, it is generally a negative or critical term suggesting that the evidence is not representative. Individual stories or examples, however, are often useful evidence.)
  • Physical details (sense data)—things you can see, hear, touch, smell or taste
    • Dialogue (Speech of other people reported directly, exactly as spoken, usually with quotation marks [“ ”] around it and set off in separate paragraphs, one for each speaker. Technically this is a subset of physical detail, because it is something you can hear, but direct reporting of what people have said is important enough to be considered a separate category.)
  • Documentary evidence (evidence from documents). This includes all of the following, among many others:
    • Letters
    • Diaries
    • Unpublished writings (early drafts of works published later; juvenile works by famous authors, etc.)
    • Laws
    • Administrative policies, like the Washington Administrative Code
    • Court decisions
    • Speeches, interviews, and other statements by relevant people

Research requires us to scrutinize information and assess its credibility. Accordingly, when we think about various phenomena, we examine empirical data and craft detailed explanations justifying our interpretations. An essential component of constructing our research narratives is providing supporting evidence and examples.

The type of proof we provide can either bolster our claims or leave readers confused or skeptical of our analysis. Therefore, it’s crucial that we use appropriate, logical phrases that guide readers clearly from one idea to the next. In this article, we discuss situations in which evidence and examples should be used and catalog effective language you can use to support your arguments, examples included.

When to introduce evidence and examples

Evidence and examples create the foundation upon which your claims can stand firm. Without proof, your arguments lack credibility and teeth. However, laundry listing evidence is as bad as failing to provide any materials or information that can substantiate your conclusions. Therefore, when you introduce examples, make sure to judiciously provide evidence when needed and use phrases that will appropriately and clearly explain how the proof supports your argument.

You should introduce and link your arguments to evidence when you

  • state information that is not “common knowledge”;
  • draw conclusions, make inferences, or suggest implications based on specific data;
  • need to clarify a prior statement, and it would be more effectively done with an illustration;
  • need to identify representative examples of a category;
  • desire to distinguish concepts; and
  • emphasize a point by highlighting a specific situation.

Introductory phrases to use and their contexts

To assist you with effectively supporting your statements, we have organized the introductory phrases below according to their function. This list is not exhaustive but will provide you with ideas of the types of phrases you can use.

PurposeIntroductory PhraseExample
stating information that is not “common knowledge”
  • [use relevant style guide’s in-text citation format]
  • As [Author] indicated/ stated/ discovered
  • According to [Author],
  • As Smith indicated in a 2010 study . . .
  • According to Marks and Peters . . .
drawing conclusions, making inferences, or suggesting implications based on specific data
  • suggests
  • as evidenced/ suggested/ indicated by
  • based on
  • can be seen/ observed when
  • as seen in
  • which is made apparent when
  • is demonstrated by/ through/ when
  • hinges on
  • The strong negative correlation suggests that . . .
  • As evidenced/ suggested/ indicated by their enlarged adrenal glands, patients with . . .
  • Based on self-reported survey results . . .
  • This phenomenon can be seen/ observed when wind speeds exceed . . .
  • As seen in the high recurrence rates of . . .
  • The causal link between A and B, which is made apparent when B triggers . . .
  • The efficacy of chocolate as a cure for unhappiness is demonstrated by survey results highlighted in . . .
  • This conclusion hinges on . . .
clarifying a prior statement
  • for example
  • for instance
  • by way of illustration
  • as an example
  • to clarify
  • to explain further
  • namely
  • to be specific
  • that is,
  • in other words,
  • This occurrence is rare. For example, only one in twenty . . .
  • It is unlikely that current population growth rates are sustainable. For instance, several major coastal cities are already suffering from . . .
  • By way of illustration, less than 20% of new matriculants feel prepared for . . .
  • As an example, when a country faces economic recession, polls indicate that over 80% of the population supports . . .
  • To clarify, not all government-funded facilities provide . . .
  • To explain further, large doses of Agent O can trigger . . .
  • Millennials prefer flexible work conditions, namely the ability to work remotely.
  • To be specific, bull markets can . . .
  • That is, significant and sudden drops in temperature can . . .
  • In other words, short bursts of high-intensity ultrasound can . . .
identifying representative examples of a category
  • for example/ instance
  • such as*
  • e.g.
  • one/ another example
  • like*
  • excluding
  • including
  • an example being

 

*NOTE: “such as” and “like” have two different uses. “Such as” introduces a specific example that is part of a category. “Like” suggests the listed items are similar to, but not included in, the topic discussed.

  • Typhoons are considered acts of God, for example/ instance.
  • The island is home to many native carnivorous plants, such as Venus flytraps.
  • The only known bioluminescent vertebrates are fish (e.g. the anglerfish and lantern fish).
  • One/ another example of this exception is . . .
  • I prefer outdoor sports like mountain climbing because they allow me to enjoy nature while exercising.
  • All mammals, excluding humans, stop drinking milk at a young age.
  • All stars, including our sun, . . .
  • Hawks feast on rodents, an example being . . .
distinguishing concepts
  • in a similar case
  • unlike the case of
  • in the same way
  • as a case in point
  • in a typical situation
  • in a normal scenario
  • In a similar case, a male patient with arthritis . . .
  • Unlike a single-blind study, a double-blind study reduces the risk of observer bias.
  • Redundancy and wordiness can be reduced in the same way: through careful editing.
  • As a case in point, let’s look at the situation in which . . .
  • In a typical situation, marsupials would . . .
  • In a normal scenario, cortisol suppressant effects . . .
emphasizing a point by highlighting a specific situation
  • for example
  • indeed
  • in fact
  • notably
  • markedly
  • as a case in point
  • Nocturnal marsupials, for example, have . . .
  • Indeed, since the World Health Organization declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo . . .
  • Ice-free habitats around Antarctica, in fact, have . . .
  • High carbon steel alloys, notably, undergo a transformation when . . .
  • Markedly, the deserts irregular rainfall levels have . . .
  • As a case in point, the last known male northern white rhinoceros . . .

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