WR 121 Fierman Letter Genre: Finding Evidence

Tailor evidence to your audience

In order to effectively persuade your audience in an open letter or op-ed, you must support your claims and arguments with evidence from outside sources in addition to using personal experience.

To find convincing evidence, consider what kinds of information and sources would be most convincing to your audience. What do they already know? What do they care about? Whose voices are compelling to them? See "Tailoring an Argument to an Audience" for great guidance on this process. 

This page provides guidance on where to look for different types of evidence based on your audience analysis. 

Find opinions and testimony in the news

Find personal experiences and expert testimony

People you know -- reaching out to those in your personal, college or work life circles is a great start (think: Social Media connections, too!)

News or social media -- trending stories or interviews with people that have first-hand experience

TED Talks -- an example of where experts might be sharing viewpoints based on their experience

Interviews -- call an expert

Find analysis in articles through the PCC Library

Use fancy Google searching to find statistics, trends, data

Add site:edu or site:gov to limit your search to .edu or .gov sites
Limiting your search to the areas of the web where the information is most reliable, such as education sites or government sites is a good way to find credible sources. 

For example, a search for nutritional supplements, will bring up many commercial (.com) sites trying to sell you vitamins. If you search for nutritional supplements site:gov , the top results (except for the sponsored ads) will be sites such as the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, which are authoritative, unbiased sources that are not trying to sell you anything.
If you search for nutritional supplements site:edu, your top results will be from universities providing research on nutritional supplements.

Add research OR study OR data OR statistics OR trends to ask Google to find any of those words in a search.

Use a minus sign to exclude words.

For example, if you are looking for weather information in Portland, Maine you could add -oregon to your search to exclude web sites with the word "oregon."
Or to exclude commercial web sites, add -site:com to your search. For example, nutritional supplements -site:com

Find data and statistics in repositories and research institutes