Evaluating Evidence: A Checklist
Before you write the supporting paragraphs in your paper, evaluate the worthiness of the evidence you have in mind to use. For each data set, example, or expert opinion, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the evidence up-to-date?
- Is the evidence relevant? Evidence that doesn’t directly support your point may not belong in your essay.
- Is the evidence sufficient? The more complex your topic is, the more evidence you will need to support your claim.
- Is your example similar to other examples you could have chosen, or does it present an extreme or atypical situation? Examples that present typical situations are usually most effective.
- Does your example illustrate your point?
- Is the source of the data trustworthy? If you cannot find full documentation of source material or if the material does not come from a familiar source, it may not serve as appropriate support.
- Are abstract or controversial terms (poverty, humane treatment, etc.) clearly defined? Statistics often have little meaning without an explanation of how key terms are defined by the source of the data.
If you’re using statistics to compare, are you comparing equal units? For example, if you’re comparing population statistics, be sure that both statistics refer to the same geographical unit—city, metropolitan area, county, etc.
- Is the source of an opinion qualified to give an opinion on the subject? Is he/she associated with a reputable institution? What is his/her profession? Are his/her credentials relevant? Be sure to include the source’s credentials in your essay in case your reader is not familiar with the source.
- Is the opinion of an expert likely to be biased in any way? If any special interest is evident (economic, political, ideological, etc.), consider further research before you accept or reject the opinion.
- Does the source of the opinion provide the evidence upon which his/her claim is based? Just as you must support your argument, your sources should provide proof that their information is valid.
Resources for Learning
Like any other academic essay, the Evaluation Essay requires a great deal of organization to be a success and earn the student a high grade. And an outline most always helps accomplish this goal.
But first a little background on an Evaluation Essay. And here is an free sample of an evaluation essay.
When faced with an Evaluation Essay writing assignment, the student-writer has to quite literally evaluate a subject – a work of literature, like a play, for example – based on a set of criteria, while also offering their judgment about this subject.
In writing this essay, the student-writer objectively analyzes all sides, aspects and elements of that subject in order to share an arguable, fair evaluation. Ultimately, they are to fully explore the subject and provide points and evidence to illustrate and support their judgment, their evaluation.
Evaluation Essays are written in a format similar to the five-paragraph essay, with an introduction paragraph that has a Thesis Statement (in this case, the student-writer’s evaluation of the subject, followed by the criteria they’re using to make their evaluation); it should have several body paragraphs for illustrating the Thesis (how the writer came up with their evaluation, as well as their criterion they used to come to this conclusion), and lastly a conclusion paragraph tying it all together, indicating the essay is concluding.
While evaluation involves subjectivity and, therefore, opinion, an Evaluation Essay is done properly, effectively and academically when it does not come off as an opinionated piece but rather a reasonable and objective evaluation. The key to producing this kind of essay that earns a high grade is simple: establishing (and then sharing with the reader) clear and fair criteria, judgments and evidence.
Evaluation Essay Writing
Evaluation Essay Topics
Evaluation Essay Sample
Outline for an Evaluation Essay
I. Introduction Paragraph
A. Topic Sentence – organizes the essay’s first paragraph and introduces the essay’s Thesis, acting as a signpost for the essay’s overall argument.
B. Thesis Statement – the paper’s premise that is to be argued or maintained in the essay, generally a sentence or two explaining the meaning of a certain subject, text, etc., which then leads to them listing the criteria (see C.) they are using to evaluate and defend it.
C. The list of the set of criteria the student will use to evaluate the subject.
The Evaluation Essay’s Body Paragraphs directly follow the Introduction Paragraph and defend the Thesis Statement.
For this particular essay, each of the three main points – the criteria in which something is being evaluated – that will defend the essay’s argument are illustrated in each body paragraph one at a time; each body paragraph addresses the various criteria that the student-writer will utilize to logically evidence their case for evaluating the subject.
Each body paragraph should begin with a Transitional Phrase (Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, Lastly, Next, Subsequently, Furthermore, In conclusion, Finally, etc.) indicating to the reader that a new point is being examined or put forth. Examples are appropriately demonstrated below.
Also, before each body paragraph expounds on the criteria, the student must remember to restate their Evaluation Essay’s Thesis – but not verbatim as it was stated originally in the Introduction Paragraph – in order to keep the reader focused and reminded of the essay’s original argument.
II. Body Paragraph No. 2
A. Transitional Phrase – First of all, Firstly, To start off with, To begin with
B. Restate Thesis
C. First bit of criteria (The first reason why the student’s Thesis is true)
III. Body Paragraph No. 3
A. Transitional Phrase – Secondly, Next, Then, Furthermore, Also, Moreover
B. Restate Thesis
C. Second bit of criteria (The second reason why the student’s Thesis is true)
IV. Body Paragraph No. 4
A. Transitional Phrase – Next, Then, Furthermore, Also, Moreover, Thirdly, Lastly
B. Restate Thesis
C. Third and last bit of criteria (The third and final reason why the student’s Thesis is true)
(More paragraphs can be added to the Body-Paragraph section if another point needs or warrants further illustrating.)
V. Conclusion Paragraph – which ties the essay together to better the reader’s understanding of its argument.
A. Transitional Phrase – Lastly, In conclusion, To sum it up, Ultimately, Finally
B. A Summary of the Essay, from the original Thesis Statement to its three main points of support (the criteria) that are illustrated in the body paragraphs.
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