Evidence in Academic Writing

As you have already seen, using evidence to support your argument and any claims you make is one of the key components of good academic style.

Writing that does not use evidence lacks credibility and will usually receive a poor grade or not be taken seriously by your peers.

First, let’s take a look at how writers typically introduce evidence in their writing by looking at the data.

The British Written Academic Written English Corpus (BAWE) is a collection of proficient university-level student writing at the turn of the 21st century. It contains just under 3000 good-standard student assignments (6,506,995 words) and is an excellent way of identifying how successful writers communicate in their discipline.

We can use the tool Sketch Engine to explore how students typically use English in their assignments and try to understand how they have communicated successfully. We can use this tool to get a better idea of how to express things in our own writing and also to check whether the terms or phrases we have used are common or whether we might have made a mistake.

Your Task: Quickly skim through the list of reporting structures students used to introduce evidence in their writing. (There are 33 pages, don’t try to read them all but try to get a sense of the range of possibilities)
Which reporting structure is the most common?
Which reporting structure did you like the most?
(Click on the red words to see the full paragraph.)

Remember your choice and add it to the discussion forum after you have finished this page.

Okay, now let’s go back to the case study we have been proofreading and editing and try to address the tutor’s concerns about the use of evidence in the essay.

Task: Read the tutor feedback below and try to make effective changes by filling in the gaps.

Well done, you’ve added evidence to the writing to make it more authoritative and improve the academic style.

Task: Go back to the discussion forum and share your favourite reporting structure from the BAWE corpus with your peers.
Why did you like it?