Introduction to Supporting Claims

Evaluate supporting claims of texts

Once a thesis statement is established, you as a reader will know what a text is claiming. That claim defines what the author wants you to do, think, or believe by the time you finish reading his or her work. An author’s argument is only as valuable as its claim.

Two orange flowers with long stems placed in separate rock-filled jars. One is bending over the other, as if in coversationIf the text’s claim is irrelevant to anything readers care about, few will want to read the argument supporting it. If the author’s claim seems obvious, readers will wonder why someone bothered to argue for it. If a claim cannot be settled by appealing to evidence, some readers may be interested in that opinion, but few will have reason to engage the argument.

Effective claims have three qualities:

  1. They address important, relevant problems. Readers will think that the claim might help them address a problem they care about.
  2. They are contestable. That is, readers will wonder whether the claim is true.
  3. They are debatable. That is, readers will think that the claim can be proved or disproved.

A significant claim answers a question that readers care about; it leads readers to think not, That’s obvious or I already knew that, but Oh, you’ll have to prove that; and it raises the kinds of issues that can be settled by factual evidence.

What You Will Learn To Do

  • evaluate various forms of support that can be used in a text to validate a thesis
  • evaluate use of personal forms of support (narrative, anecdote)
  • evaluate use of research-based forms of support (facts, statistics, outside authority)
  • evaluate relationship between the rhetorical context of a text, and the effectiveness of the types of support used