Credibility Markers

Learning Objective

  • Differentiate among the markers of credibility in writing

The table below will help you see the application of different markers of credibility. Think about your strategy for maintaining credibility and authority in your own writing: you will most likely rely on all four markers in some combination.

Marker Explanation Application
Signal Phrases Signal phrases point the readers to the information from a source. Good signal phrases can highlight the credentials of an author or source. For example, notice how in the following example, the writer establishes the source’s strong credentials: John Smith, the Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Northern Mississippi, argues that the senator’s flat tax plan is regressive.
Complete, Accurate Citations Citations help demonstrate that you are trustworthy as an author and provide a clear way for a reader to verify your evidence. Each part of a citation provides a piece of searchable information. For example, a reader can search for the author’s name to find other things that he or she has written. If readers search for John Smith, they will find that he has been publishing articles on taxation for 45 years.
Demonstration of Relevance Critical thinking and reasoning demonstrate to your reader the significance of your evidence and enhance your credibility. Don’t assume that your reader can figure out why you are using a particular source. It’s your job as the writer to explain your reasoning. John Smith’s article may be highly technical and difficult to understand. Your job is to use paraphrase and summary to make the ideas accessible to your readers and to show them why those ideas are important.
Supporting Evidence Evidence is required for any claim. The more relevant evidence that you include, with accurate citation, the more credible your writing will be. Even if John Smith is a distinguished professor of economics, his word alone isn’t enough to prove your claim about the senator’s flat tax plan. You must support your argument with specific evidence.