What is the Most Important Element Related to Evidence in Addition to the Evidence Itself? A Guide for Critical Thinking

Evidence is the foundation of any argument, whether it is in academic writing, scientific research, or everyday reasoning. Evidence is the data, facts, or information that support a claim or conclusion. However, evidence alone is not enough to make a convincing case. There is another element that is equally important, and that is analysis.

What is Analysis and Why is it Important?

Analysis is the process of examining, interpreting, and explaining the evidence. Analysis is what connects the evidence to the main point or thesis of the argument. Analysis is what shows the relevance, significance, and implications of the evidence. Analysis is what makes the argument logical, coherent, and persuasive.

Without analysis, evidence is just a collection of facts that may or may not be related to the topic. Without analysis, the reader or listener may not understand how the evidence supports the argument, or may question the validity or reliability of the evidence. Without analysis, the argument may lack depth, clarity, and impact.

How to Analyze Evidence Effectively?

There are many ways to analyze evidence, depending on the type, source, and purpose of the evidence. However, some general steps that can help with any kind of analysis are:

  • Identify the evidence: What is the evidence that you are using to support your argument? Is it a statistic, a quotation, an example, a graph, a table, or something else? Where did you get the evidence from? Is it from a credible and relevant source?
  • Explain the evidence: What does the evidence mean or show? How does it relate to your argument? What is the main point or message of the evidence?
  • Evaluate the evidence: How strong or weak is the evidence? How reliable or trustworthy is the source? How accurate or precise is the data? How relevant or representative is the example? How current or outdated is the information?
  • Synthesize the evidence: How does the evidence fit with the rest of your argument? How does it compare or contrast with other evidence that you have used? How does it support or challenge your thesis or main point?

Example of Analysis in Action

To illustrate how analysis works, let us look at an example of an argument and how it uses evidence and analysis. The argument is about whether video games have positive or negative effects on children. The thesis or main point of the argument is that video games have more positive than negative effects on children. Here is one paragraph from the argument that uses evidence and analysis:

Video games can enhance children’s cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and memory. According to a meta-analysis of 82 studies by Granic et al. (2014), playing video games can improve various aspects of cognition, such as attention, perception, mental rotation, and executive functions. For example, playing action games can improve visual attention, which is the ability to focus on relevant information and ignore distractions. Playing puzzle games can improve spatial reasoning, which is the ability to manipulate and visualize objects in space. Playing memory games can improve working memory, which is the ability to store and manipulate information in short-term memory. These cognitive skills are essential for learning and academic performance, as well as for everyday tasks and activities.

In this paragraph, the evidence is the meta-analysis by Granic et al. (2014), which is a credible and relevant source that summarizes the findings of many studies on the effects of video games on cognition. The analysis is the explanation, evaluation, and synthesis of the evidence. The explanation is the summary of the main findings of the meta-analysis, such as the types of games and the cognitive skills that they can improve. The evaluation is the assessment of the strength and reliability of the evidence, such as the number of studies, the quality of the methods, and the consistency of the results. The synthesis is the connection of the evidence to the thesis, such as the implication that video games can enhance children’s learning and academic performance.

Conclusion

Evidence is a crucial element of any argument, but it is not enough by itself. Analysis is the other element that is equally important, as it is what makes the evidence meaningful, relevant, and persuasive. Analysis is what shows the reader or listener how the evidence supports the argument, and why the argument matters. Therefore, to make a strong and effective argument, one must use both evidence and analysis.