Good Material

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

Think about material used to make clothes. Material comes in wool, cotton, silk, polyester, spandex, suede, and leather. Although the material has a form, it doesn’t have one standard form. Sometimes the form is triangular or rectangular; and other times, material can take an irregular shape. An experienced seamstress would have to take an irregular shape or a pattern (the material) and cut and form it into something usable, because on the sewing table, it is just a shape, nothing more.  It doesn’t serve a purpose. It doesn’t forewarn us about what it will become. All we see on the table is the potential of the material.

As you perform the research for your papers, you will discover types of materials. In this sense, material comes in the form of reference sources such as journals, books, anthologies, newspapers, and films. When you place these sources on your desks, they look like shapes. They don’t have any particular form other than the form presented to you. In other words, the book remains a book until you incorporate some of its elements into your essay.

When you do this, the book takes on a shape. Similar to the seamstress who takes an irregular shape or a regular pattern and cuts it into something of use, you, as the student writer, take a book’s elements, in the form of a quote, analyze (cut) its value, and incorporate it into your academic paper. What originally had no shape in the beginning is shaped. In other words, the book as a shape is useful.

However, don’t get too excited. You were successful in locating a source for your paper, yes, but anyone can find a source. You can pick a source off the library shelf and incorporate any quote; but just because you are able to incorporate an element from a book (a quote) doesn’t necessarily mean that the element is completely useful.

In other words, just because you have found a book–and have found some use for a book–doesn’t mean that the book is good to use for your paper. This is why it is important to understand the purpose of your essay, what you hope to accomplish, because if you incorporate an element that doesn’t fit within the overall scheme of your essay, then your element, the quote or the book, isn’t useful.

Therefore, “Good Material” means two things: 1) you know how to analyze a source to determine its value, and 2) you know how to incorporate sources that are the right fit for a position within your essay.  No one reading your essay should ask the question Why is this here? A professor can easily determine if you understand the quote you are incorporating within your paper just by your ability to incorporate the quote accurately. You may have not read the whole book, but your professor knows that you have a good understanding of the material.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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