Evidence is the support you give to back up your statements and arguments. In university studies, there are strict rules about the evidence you use. You must acknowledge another’s intellectual material every time you use it—words (e.g. single words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs); graphic material (e.g. tables, diagrams, drawings); multimedia sources (e.g. videos, CD-ROMS, Internet).
About evidence in university learning
In most instances, you will be required to read widely for your assignment essays and use valid evidence to support your claims. Most first year subjects let you know their requirements about the sources of evidence you should use. For example:
- USE 3 reference books, 2 journal articles and a government web site. (Sometimes the specific readings are recommended, and other times you are on your own to find the relevant material.)
- CHOOSE 5 recent journal articles published within the past 5-10 years (i.e. check the date of publication)
- DRAW ON current opinion from newspapers, magazines, TV shows and recall your own experiences
Make no assumptions: always read your unit guide; check your subject forums; ask questions if you’re not sure. There will always be loss of valuable marks (and study time) if you use the WRONG resources.
Your experiences with evidence
Click on the questions to see the answer.When I did projects and assignments at school, we cut and pasted information (e.g. text, graphs, pictures) from the Internet and other sources into our work—nobody said anything about this work being owned by somebody!
Using evidence in different subjects
Different subjects will require you to draw on a variety of sources for evidence in your essay. For example, if you are working on Law subjects, you will draw much of your evidence from legal cases and legislation. In contrast, teaching and nursing courses may ask you to demonstrate your theoretical understandings with examples from your practical training. All of this varies from discipline to discipline. The message here is to READ your unit guides and assessment tasks very carefully to determine the type of evidence your assignment work requires. Also, examining readings and textbook-material in your discipline will help you to work out the ways that your discipline incorporates evidence in writing.
The lecturer wants you to use evidence in your research essays. It must be VALID, RELEVANT and RECENT.
The lecturer wants your work to reflect the teachings of your unit—use the information sources recommended in your unit materials.
The lecturer (and the university) expects you to ACKNOWLEDGE each source of evidence you use.