Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

The comment “Inaccurate” can refer to two issues: 1) reference to data you use to support a certain point, and/or 2) reference to a point you make within the analysis of your paper.

In the first instance, facts, research data, and other related source information bombard journalists everyday. It is important to a journalist and the company in the business of selling news to be accurate, to get the story and get the story right, through the proper means. Similarly, the objectives of a student involve the work of properly citing sources. If the citation information is incorrect, the professor has no real way of backtracking to find out if a specific statistic is accurate.

This is why it is important to create notes either on an index card with the bibliographic information on the reverse or create a bibliography within a separate Microsoft Word document. This way if you are ever asked to supply the information, you will have the support on a backup disk or Word document to add credibility to your paper. This is the professor’s use of the comment on a basic level.

In the second instance, in your papers you will make many points about a particular work. You may suggest that “Faulkner has failed to confront his ambivalence with social marginality in the South” as a primary thesis for a longer paper. This is an assumption on your part unless you can find data that supports the statement, data that includes references to Faulkner’s words. Any word other than Faulkner’s own words represents an assumption within your paper.

Although this is just an assumption, it is possible to be wrong or to be far from the truth. In the case of Faulkner, he, in fact, does confront his ambivalence toward social marginality. He uses the book, the novel, as a medium; so the assumption above is inaccurate in the sense that you, as the student, haven’t really proved with credible and verifiable data that Faulkner believes what you assume. In this case, your assumption is inaccurate because if you can find or develop a contradiction (i.e., the novel as medium for Faulkner to express his views), then the assumption you make or points you attempt to convey are inaccurate.

Revision Considerations

You must correct those areas of your paper that are inaccurate. Your revision objective here is to revise all of those sentences and statements that “misrepresent” the ideas of the author. Therefore, here are a few suggestions:

1) First, when analyzing a work, immediately separate the textual evidence (the quotes) you want to use within your paper.

2) Second, develop a thesis.

3) Third, develop three reasons why you believe in the thesis you have constructed; these reasons will be the topic sentences of your body paragraphs. Examine your topic sentences and ask yourself what point you want to make in terms of supporting the thesis and anchoring the paper.

4) Then “analyze” the quotes. What does the quote evoke in a direct sentence, without your added assumptions? What are its implications? What relevance does it have either within a paragraph or in terms of the whole text?

5) Determine who says what to whom for what reason.

Following these steps will help you both improve the accuracy of ideas (and credibility) within your paper and at the same time adhere closely to the standards of the canon.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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