Revising Claims

Learning Objectives

  • Review and revise the claims, or evidence, presented in a work of writing

Review the Evidence

When you support your thesis, you are revealing evidence. Evidence includes anything that can help support your stance. You should revisit your evidence as you revise to ensure that it appropriately supports the claims in your writing. The following are the kinds of evidence you will encounter as you conduct your research:

A magnifying glass with a fingerprint on it.

Figure 1. Is your evidence accurate and relevant to your thesis statement?

  • Facts: Facts are the best kind of evidence to use because they cannot be disputed. They can support your stance by providing background information on or a solid foundation for your point of view. However, some facts may still need explanation. For example, the sentence, “The most populated state in the United States is California,” is a pure fact, but it may require some explanation to make it relevant to your specific argument.
  • Judgments: Judgments are conclusions drawn from the given facts. Judgments are more credible than opinions because they are founded upon careful reasoning and examination of a topic.
  • Testimony: Testimony consists of direct quotations from either an eyewitness or an expert witness. An eyewitness is someone who has direct experience with a subject; he or she adds authenticity to an argument based on facts. An expert witness is a person who has extensive experience with a topic. This person studies the facts and provides commentary based on either facts or judgments, or both. An expert witness adds authority and credibility to an argument.
  • Personal Observation: Personal observation is similar to testimony, but personal observation consists of your testimony. It reflects what you know to be true because you have experiences and have formed either opinions or judgments about them. For instance, if you are one of five children and your thesis states that being part of a large family is beneficial to a child’s social development, you could use your own experience to support your thesis.

Remember that the effectiveness of evidence is contextual and dependent on audience. While evidence consisting primarily of personal observations may be effective for one audience, another might require hard facts.

Revising: Highlighting Evidence Method

One way to review the appropriateness of the evidence in your paper is to use the highlighting method. To do this, you choose a body paragraph within the draft and highlight the paragraph’s claim(s) in one color. Highlight the evidence for that claim(s) in a second color. Highlight the explanation of how the evidence supports the claim in a third color. Review the color-coded paragraph. Is there sufficient evidence for the claim? Don’t assume that your reader understands the importance of your quotes or paraphrases. Readers are not inside your head, so it may not be obvious why this evidence is significant. Add further interpretation of your source evidence–why is this evidence important? How does it connect with the point of your paragraph? How does it further your thesis?

Student Example

In accordance with the tuition freeze, universities could also provide students with free books and other required class materials to reduce the burden of college expenses.[1] One college textbook can range from as little as $30 to a whopping $200. In fact, the College Board approximates that “the average college student spends more than $1,200 on books and materials” yearly, and this number fluctuates depending on the student’s major (Kristof).[2] An obvious solution would be for students to rent textbooks or buy used books. However, some courses require the student to buy a new textbook that includes a code for the student to access online work for the class, and in some instances, renting the textbook costs about the same as the price of buying it. By granting students access to open textbooks and other free online materials, universities can help lower costs. With open textbooks, professors would take the important sections of the required text and provide students with the coursework digitally or on paper, and the school would only pay a fee to authors and publishers, if necessary. The fee would be relatively tiny in comparison to textbook costs.[3]

The student’s claim is highlighted in turquoise.
The evidence from the College Board is highlighted in blue.
The interpretation, exploration, and connection is highlighted in yellow. Note how much larger the yellow section is in the paragraph.

Revising Using Hotspotting

Another revising method is called hotspotting. Read through your draft marking sentences that convey important ideas in your paper. These are areas where your writing and thinking is significant or “hot.” Copy one of the hot sentences into a new document then use that sentence as the first sentence of a new paragraph. Write for 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t worry if you seem to be moving in a different direction from your original draft; you might be on to new and better material. When time is up compare the new material with your original draft. Could the new material be incorporated into or substituted for the original? Could the new material be the start of a new part of the original draft? Repeat with other hot sentences.

Student Example

Another intentional feeling amongst the people watching “Toys of War” is sympathy for the children. Berends pushes this emotion through visual tracks and primary footage of the children’s everyday lives. The film is constantly showing the kids making their toys out of dirt. They make little toy trucks, guns, animals, and people to play with because they have nothing else or any other way to have fun according to the video. This urges the viewer to have sympathy for the children because that is not a social norm in society in other countries.

The bold sentence is the student’s hotspot. Below is the result of a student freewrite regarding that hotspot. The writer can then add and/or revise the original paragraph:

This is a really important point and I want the reader to understand how the camera is focused on these animals. What I also notice is that these were handmade. They looked like they were made by the kids themselves, like out of dirt. This could really build on my point that this means pathos. The viewer feels really sad because kids should have toys to play with and not rocks and dirt. And kids should be able to have fun and play.

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  1. Student Claim
  2. Evidence from the College Board
  3. Interpretation, exploration, and connection.