The College Writing Series: Translating Your Evidence

Now that we have gone through the first step of the essay process (picking evidence), it’s time to analyze your evidence. As I’ve said in past posts, college writing is about creating your own insight, rather than writing about other individual’s insight (for example, writing a book report). Professors do not want a review of the reading, they want to know what you thought about it. Being able to present your thoughts in an organized, easy-to-understand manner will earn you the better grade.

“How do I go about analyzing my evidence,” you ask? In CEA format, there are three steps:

Translation, Warrants, and Staircase

In this post, I’ll walk you through the first step, the Translation.

Translation – What does that evidence mean?

In the Translation, you want to explain your evidence in simpler words, make it easier to understand. For instance, let’s say that you were using this piece of evidence in your paragraph:

As stated by Fill-in-the-blank Magazine, “out of all wrongful convictions in the United States, 80 percent has been caused by eyewitness misidentification”.

Note: I completely made up that sentence, it is only to be used for this example.

There are a few things I can do to translate this sentence of evidence. First, “eyewitness misidentification” is not necessarily a term that I would expect every person to know. So, instead of confusing my reader even further, describing what eyewitness misidentification is would be a great way to go. So our first translation sentence would look something like this:

Eyewitness misidentification is the occurrence of a witness at a crime falsely accusing an innocent person of the crime.

Another thing to remember is that we can have as many translation sentences as we want, just as long as we are still describing our evidence rather than getting a little off track.

I would add another sentence to our evidence above. Putting a percentage into a physical representation sometimes solidifies the evidence into the reader’s head. Therefore, I would add this sentence:

According to Fill-in-the-blank Magazine, if five falsely convicted individuals stood in a line and asked how they were sent to prison, four would say that it was because of eyewitness misidentification.

In the end, this is what my paragraph would look thus far:

As stated by Fill-in-the-blank Magazine, “out of all wrongful convictions in the United States, 80 percent has been caused by eyewitness misidentification”. Eyewitness misidentification is the event of a witness at a crime falsely accusing an innocent person of the crime. According to Fill-in-the-blank Magazine, if five falsely convicted individuals stood in a line and were asked how they were sent to prison, four would say that it was because of eyewitness misidentification.

All in all, this portion of our paragraph doesn’t look too shabby. The Translation part of Analysis is usually the easiest part.

Don’t forget to join the waitlist for my upcoming course here!

I hope you enjoyed this post in the College Writing Series. Next time, I will tackle Warrants, the second step of Analysis.

– Reggie Reg

 

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3 thoughts on “The College Writing Series: Translating Your Evidence

  1. Hi Reggie Reg, I have several questions for you that I have been meaning to ask and finally found some time to do so. Did your professors ever request that you utilize the ‘”because clause” in essay writing? The word because signals a link between the reason and the claim in your argument (essentially triggering the argument) so I can understand why a professor would want students to use this clause in an argumentative essay, however, I was taught to not use it as several professors felt it “cheapened” the feel and flow of an essay or research paper. What are your thoughts? Simple example: Coffee tastes best with dairy-based creamer BECAUSE dairy enriches the flavor of the coffee, cuts down on bitterness and cools the coffee down perfectly for prompt consumption. My second question is what methodologies do you employ when narrowing your focus for a thesis statement when your prompt is very broad? Let’s say your essay is to be written on Crime Issues and you don’t have any personal experiences with crime OR nothing about the topic intrigues you enough to be able to quickly narrow the focus and concentrate on one specific area of the topic, what do you advise? Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry for the late response, alex2review! I’ve been super busy lately, but have been able to use the time to think about the questions.

      First, I don’t really prefer to use the Because Clause in its exact form, as the content can get pretty choppy. As you’ll see when we get to the Staircase part of essay analysis, we will use a similar version of the Because Clause. Instead of saying “this this because that that”, we might say something along the lines of [due to this this, that that happens”. If we were to write the exact form of the Because Clause over and over again, the essay will seem to be “cheapened” in my opinion.

      If a particular professor wanted you to write a certain way, I would say do what they say. Like I’ve said in other posts, college is all about following instructions. Some professors might get angry if students are not handing in essays the way the professor wants them. That was the case with the professor that taught me CEA, if you handed in work that did not follow CEA format, it does not matter whether or not the essay was written well. Sometimes, you just have to follow what the professor says and try to pass the class (that’s how I think anyway).

      On to your second question. Is this essay being written on the spot (example: during a written test) or is it the typical “go home and write an essay”? I will have to think about methodologies for on the spot writing, as with essays for the SAT I may have slightly made up things to make a thesis (it’s okay on the SAT/ACT though!). With the other type of essay, I would probably sit down and brainstorm anything I can think of. If I end up with 15 different topic sentences, then I would narrow those ideas and try to filter out the ones that may not fit with the group.

      Example: I am writing an essay on food consumption, which is broad. I brainstorm and come up with 3 possible ideas in order to help formulate my thesis: Junk food is bad, vegetables are good, steak is meat. See how the last one does not quite fit right with the others? That’s what I’m talking about with filtering out ideas that don’t really fit with the rest of the group.

      Sorry again for the late response, but I hope that I was of help.

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      1. Excellent! Thank you much! I PARTICULARLY like the idea of having more topic sentences than you need and then shaving off the unnecessary fat…once again, much easier than wracking your brain trying to come up with topic sentences that may be too narrow in scope for your paper or you’re not being careful about whether or not a topic sentence is appropriate / matches with your thesis! I tend to get analysis paralysis and then feel overwhelmed when I haven’t given myself any wiggle room to change course if my original ideas are not working out. Also, thanks for thinking about on-the-spot essays as I did not clarify my question…I’d love to know about a technique/s or methods for superb on-the-spot essay writing. I value your input and help!

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