How to Incorporate Evidence to Support Claims in an Essay

author By Mary Boies

Writing an essay is an academic task dreaded mainly by students for the uncertainty of what the instructor or professor is testing. The essay writing process entails developing a thesis-driven paper that engages the use and analysis of evidence.

How to use sources in an essay

Since you are likely to write many types of essays during your scholarly pursuit, it is imperative to understand how to integrate evidence to advance a scholarly discussion.

Whether you are writing a reflective essay, personal narrative, or personal statement, most of which are subjective, you will need evidence. This is despite the fact that they are written in the first-person perspective. The same applies to subjectively written essays such as persuasive, argumentative, interview, argumentative, expository, or cause-and-effect essays.

In fact, during the pre-writing stage, you must ensure that you choose a topic where you can find evidence to back your claims. Then, as you write the paper, you must include the evidence again. Finally, given the evidence, you must conclude your essay by showing how the arguments, claims, and counterarguments sit therein.

What is evidence in an essay or Academic Writing?

Evidence refers to factual information that helps readers draw conclusions and form opinions or perspectives about a topic or a subject. It is a body of facts or pieces of information that indicate whether a proposition is valid or a belief is true.

It refers to the material used to support arguments, claims, propositions, and beliefs. To write a good essay, you must use strong evidence to support the ideas. We shall see why you need evidence and when to use it in a few. Remember, your success in an essay- or research paper-based assessment depends on how solid your evidence is.

You must include a relevant in-text citation when you give evidence by quoting, summarizing, or paraphrasing it from a source.

To write evidence in an essay, introduce the evidence, state the evidence, and explain the main message or emphasis and how it links up with the topic and thesis statement of your paper.

Why use sources or evidence when writing?

Academic writing can be challenging at the same time. It is easy when you understand the rules of the game and challenging if you openly disregard, completely don't understand, or flout these rules.

Sources and evidence contained in them are used to gather ideas and information to enrich and expand our knowledge and understanding. In addition, the sources have evidence that can be used to advance a scholarly discussion on a topic or subject.

Students and scholars also use sources to identify, build, and support arguments or research to demonstrate learning.

But why use these sources? Here are some reasons.

Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Sources of Evidence

Good and terrible sources can be used in an essay or research paper.

A Scholarly Source refers to a source written by a respectable author, has been appropriately peer-reviewed by experts (faculty members, researchers, and scholars) who confirm the accuracy of the information, and is up-to-date. It is sometimes referred to as a peer-reviewed, academic, or refereed source.

Scholarly sources entail research and disseminating research findings that allow academic discussion among professionals within disciplines. You can get scholarly articles using bibliographic databases such as Web of Science, JSTOR, ERIC, Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, Scopus, and PubMed. Use the CRAAP test to identify scholarly sources.

A Non-Scholarly source falls within the opposite of a scholarly source. Instead, non-scholarly sources inform and entertain the public or allow practitioners to share industry, product, and practice information.

Scholarly or Academic Source

Non-Scholarly or Popular Source

Shares with scholars the results of primary research and experiments

Entertains and informs a broad and general population

Written by respectable scholars or researchers in a field, experts in a field, and names with authority in a given area.

Written by journalists or feature writers with names that are not notable

Always published by professional associations, credible independent/scholarly publishers, or university press

Published by a commercial publisher or through self-publication

Targets scholars and researchers in the field or those interested in a topic at the research level. It mainly targets university students.

Targets the general public.

It entails a formal presentation of scholarly work in a standard style, often an abstract at the beginning of the article. Articles may have section headings, such as literature review, methodology, results, discussion/further study

Presented in story or prose format with anecdotal evidence from other people

Uses formal and sometimes technical language and contains discipline-specific jargon

It uses casual language and has a few technical terms that are sometimes misleading.

Includes references referred to when writing, sometimes called works cited or bibliographies.

Does not have references. Instead, they can refer to a credible study and hyperlink to it for authority and credibility


  • Journal Articles
  • Course-specific Books from the library (class readings)
  • Government reports
  • Company records or reports
  •  News reports from credible magazines and organizations
  • NGO research papers
  • Tweets and Social media posts
  •  Periodicals
  •  White papers
  • Government proceedings
  • Court rulings or case briefs


  • Wikipedia
  • YouTube Videos
  •  Blogs
  •  Slide and Essays from Essay Mills
  • Quotes from websites
  • Books by journalists or professional writers
  • Non-referred journals
  • Magazine content
  • Newspaper content

Related: How to write a literature review for a dissertation.

Types of Evidence when Writing Essays

Your essay is like a court case where the person reading your essay is either the jury or the judge. Therefore, you must convince the reader using credible evidence to win your case. Using the evidence will most definitely depend on the type of evidence you need to fortify your ideas.

In academic writing, which applies when writing research papers, term papers, dissertations, and essays, you can use six types of evidence.

1. Statistical Evidence

As the name suggests, statistical evidence entails using numbers. This is a powerful category of evidence that is drawn from scientific sources. You can use statistics to support the thesis statement. 

Using shocking statistics in your introduction helps grab the attention of your readers. When stressing impact or extent, you will need to introduce statistics.

For instance, you can state the birth rates, incidence, prevalence of diseases, number of deaths, population, death rates, etc. the only catch is to get evidence from research such as surveys, measurements, and percentages.

2. Textual Evidence

In academic writing, textual evidence is the most common. It is used when writing an essay, speech, book review, article critique, or research paper. It includes:

When using textual evidence, you need to cite the source and include the page number to help the readers verify your evidence.

3. Analogical Evidence

Analogical evidence entails comparing an uncertain or little-known situation with a known one. In this respect, it helps draw conclusions based on the comparison.

You can compare the findings of a study with your findings. You can also compare expert opinion to something similar to your topic.

A court case that is similar to your thesis. It could also be statistics related to your topic but indirectly.

4. Testimonial Evidence

This type of evidence is based on the opinion of different experts in a field. Using opinions from experts is a wonderful way to support your writing. It is assumed that the experts have authority on the topic. Testimonial evidence helps you to fortify your thesis.

It is mainly used to support the topic sentences in the paragraphs of your essay. as you use testimonial evidence, ensure that you establish its credibility, validity, and relevance before using an expert�s opinion.

Examples include interview scripts with experts, quotes from a book written by an expert, conclusions from papers written by experts, and your personal experience or specialized knowledge, given your field of specialization.

5. Hypothetical Evidence

Hypothetical evidence, as the name suggests, is not real. Instead, the evidence offers projections or guesses into the future with enough imagery and sensory detail in a manner that it appears real.

Such evidence is often weak but can sparingly be used to create a vivid picture. In addition, it helps capture a reader's attention, especially if your work is fiction.

 You could tell a story of what might happen if the thesis is true, a story expounding a statistic from a credible source, or an imaginary event that triggers an action related to your essay's thesis. It is mostly used in narrative writing.

6. Anecdotal Evidence

Anecdotal evidence is a surefire way to attract your readers when writing the introduction. It is usually used as an attention grabber or hook in the introduction paragraph.

Mainly, this refers to stories or case studies that you front to support your thesis. On its own, anecdotal evidence is relatively weak because it simply accounts for something that happened to a few people.

When writing an essay, you can form some connection with your readers using strategically placed anecdotes. For example, you can rope in personal experience, an excerpt from a letter or journal, a case study, or interviews with someone to tell a story related to your thesis. However, note that too much anecdotal evidence is not valued in academic writing, making your writing subjective and not objective.

Related Reading: How to write a strong argumentative essay.

When should you introduce evidence and examples?

When writing a research paper, essay, or any academic paper, evidence, and examples are the foundation for the claims and arguments. You need proof to pump credibility to your arguments.

You are required to use evidence or examples when:

Steps to use to include evidence in an Essay

To introduce evidence in an essay, you begin by making a claim, argument, or idea in the topic sentence. Then, you must present the evidence by introducing it, stating it, and analyzing it. Finally, you must link the evidence to your thesis and the next ideas. Let us elaborate on this further.

1. Make a claim

The first step before anything else is to assert within your essay. You must start by establishing a claim or an idea in the first sentence of the paragraph or the topic sentence.

It is only then that you can present evidence to back your claim. Asserting the claim in the topic sentence helps your readers know what to expect in the paragraph.

2. Introduce the Evidence

When integrating sources into your essay or any academic writing, you should introduce the evidence after making your claim.

You can also introduce the sources by writing the titles and credentials of the authors. This enhances your ethos, making clear why your sources are credible. It also provides information that your audience requires for background knowledge.

Example: Albert Schwartz, Professor of Psychology at the University of X, observes that�

3. State the Evidence

After introducing the evidence, you should then state your evidence. If you are, for instance, quoting verbatim from a source, you should copy and paste the quote word-for-word and place it within quotation marks. Then, immediately after the quotation, provide the in-text citation that includes the exact page number or paragraph from where you have lifted.

If you paraphrase or summarise evidence from a source, ensure that you read it and write it in your own words. However, acknowledge the author by providing an appropriate in-text citation since it is not your idea.

4. Explain the evidence

Immediately after you have introduced and stated your evidence, you must critically analyze it by explaining or expounding on it to make sense. This is usually the most challenging step. As you strive to analyze the evidence, ask yourself:

Discuss how the evidence supports your argument or claims when analyzing the evidence. Then, tell your readers how the evidence sits given your thesis statement.

5. Link the evidence to your thesis statement

After introducing, stating, and explaining your evidence, you need to link the evidence to your thesis to make your essay coherent.

Every new idea should be in its own paragraph and has to relate to the gist of your essay.

Linking the evidence to your thesis or themes in the thesis statement helps to illustrate ideas and helps maintain a good flow.

As you link the evidence to the thesis statement, strive to connect it to the subsequent evidence. For example, you can use linking words and phrases that transition a paragraph to the next.

Phrases and Words to use when introducing Evidence

To effectively introduce your evidence, you can use signal phrases to signal your writers that you are introducing information from another source to support your thesis. These are verbs that precisely reflect what the author is doing. They include:

As you incorporate evidence into an essay, literature review, or research paper, there are phrases you can use:

You can also use these phrases when explaining evidence.

Use these phrases to link evidence.

Ways to Integrate Evidence in an academic paper

There are many ways you can introduce evidence when writing an academic/scholarly or professional paper. Given that you must include evidence in your text, you can either quote, paraphrase, or summarize.


When quoting from a source or reference, you are lifting the words from that source as they are in the source. But when do you need to use quotations?

And when you quote, ensure that you cite the sources where you take the quotations. If your quote is more than three lines, as is common in literature papers:


Summarizing entails offering an overview of the entire text or piece of work. A summary is functional and practical when you intend to provide background information on your topic, develop the scope of your arguments, or mention a source as a counterargument.

Unlike paraphrasing, the content that is summarized is not that nuanced.

 You can incorporate many sources at once through summarizing, especially if you do not have much space. But, like paraphrasing, you have to include a relevant in-text citation.


Paraphrasing means reading from a source and writing the ideas in different formats and presentations. Putting everything in your own words helps contextualise the ideas supporting your arguments.

Paraphrasing is not rearranging a few words, changing words, or using synonyms. Instead, you need to set the source aside and narrate what the author says to avoid plagiarism and paraphrase well.

It is more nuanced as it focuses on a specific bit of the text, unlike the summary that compresses everything. And as you paraphrase, include an in-text citation. But when is paraphrasing ideal in your writing?

Checklist to avoid Citation Issues

We have seen students with citation issues that appear due to overreliance on a single source instead of including personal ideas or commentary to supplement the information drawn from sources. To avoid such, ask yourself:

Related Reading: Writing conventions to use in academic writing.

Final Take

Although citing sources when writing an essay or research paper can be complicated initially, everything becomes easy if you grasp the formatting and citation styles.

You must credit other scholars and writers for their pieces; otherwise, your work is considered plagiarism. The mention of plagiarism raises eyebrows and is frowned upon from lower-level education to higher levels.

To this end, you have learned how to use sources in an essay or research paper, any academic or professional writing.

How you cite sources depends on the type of paper you are writing, the formatting and citation style you are using, and the length of the paper.

You can use parenthetical references, endnotes, or footnotes when making minor points and citing a source. And if you are unsure, asking your professor the citation style to use can save you much time and a grade.

You have the step-by-step process of citing sources and everything else you need. Now it is your turn to write a convincing and scholarly essay or research paper!

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