Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:39 AM
I agree with besmith59 about the difference between anecdotes and proven facts. It sounds like the key factor that your professor is looking for would be the ability to document the facts and statistics that you include. For instance, if you are writing a paper about the death penalty, you should use measurable statistics to support your arguments rather than personal stories or subjective claims. Explaining that the death penalty is wrong because your uncle was actually innocent or because your sister heard a story about someone being exonerated after their execution is an example of an anecdotal claim that does not strengthen your argument. However, if you use verifiable information, such as official conviction rates, statistics about appeals or measured facts about recidivism, these would be valid pieces of information to include because they do not depend on readers to trust you.