INTRODUCTION TO SYNTHESES
(mostly from Cassie Carter - with her kind permission)
- What is a synthesis?
Two types of syntheses
Standards for synthesis essays
How to write synthesis essays
Techniques for developing synthesis essays
Thesis statements, introductions, conclusions, and quotations
WHAT IS A SYNTHESIS?
A synthesis is a written discussion that draws on one or more sources. It follows that your ability to write syntheses depends on your ability to infer relationships among sources - essays, articles, fiction, and also nonwritten sources, such as lectures, interviews, observations. This process is nothing new for you, since you infer relationships all the time - say, between something you've read in the newspaper and something you've seen for yourself, or between the teaching styles of your favorite and least favorite instructors. In fact, if you've written research papers, you've already written syntheses. In an academic synthesis, you make explicit the relationships that you have inferred among separate sources.
The skills you've already been practicing in this course will be vital in writing syntheses. Clearly, before you're in a position to draw relationships between two or more sources, you must understand what those sources say; in other words, you must be able to summarize these sources. It will frequently be helpful for your readers if you provide at least partial summaries of sources in your synthesis essays. At the same time, you must go beyond summary to make judgments - judgments based, of course, on your critical reading of your sources - as you have practiced in your reading responses and in class discussions. You should already have drawn some conclusions about the quality and validity of these sources; and you should know how much you agree or disagree with the points made in your sources and the reasons for your agreement or disagreement.
Further, you must go beyond the critique of individual sources to determine the relationship among them. Is the information in source B, for example, an extended illustration of the generalizations in source A? Would it be useful to compare and contrast source C with source B? Having read and considered sources A, B, and C, can you infer something else - D (not a source, but your own idea)?
Because a synthesis is based on two or more sources, you will need to be selective when choosing information from each. It would be neither possible nor desirable, for instance, to discuss in a ten-page paper on the battle of Wounded Knee every point that the authors of two books make about their subject. What you as a writer must do is select the ideas and information from each source that best allow you to achieve your purpose.
Your purpose in reading source materials and then in drawing upon them to write your own material is often reflected in the wording of an assignment. For example, your assignment may ask that you evaluate a text, argue a position on a topic, explain cause and effect relationships, or compare and contrast items. While you might use the same sources in writing an argumentative essay as your classmate uses in writing a comparison/contrast essay, you will make different uses of those sources based on the different purposes of the assignments. What you find worthy of detailed analysis in Source A may be mentioned only in passing by your classmate.
USING YOUR SOURCES
Your purpose determines not only what parts of your sources you will use but also how you will relate them to one another. Since the very essence of synthesis is the combining of information and ideas, you must have some basis on which to combine them. Some relationships among the material in you sources must make them worth sythesizing. It follows that the better able you are to discover such relationships, the better able you will be to use your sources in writing syntheses. Your purpose in writing (based on your assignment) will determine how you relate your source materials to one another. Your purpose in writing determines which sources you use, which parts of them you use, at which points in your essay you use them, and in what manner you relate them to one another.
TWO TYPES OF SYNTHESES
THE ARGUMENT SYNTHESIS: The purpose of an argument synthesis is for you to present your own point of view - supported, of course, by relevant facts, drawn from sources, and presented in a logical manner. The thesis of an argumentative essay is debatable. It makes a proposition about which reasonable people could disagree, and any two writers working with the same source materials could conceive of and support other, opposite theses.
STANDARDS FOR SYNTHESIS ESSAYS
2. Keep in mind that original thought and insightful analysis are required for a 4.0, 3.5, or 3.0 paper; 2.5 and below evaluations tend not to present original ideas.
3. A 4.0, 3.5, or 3.0 paper will create a "dialogue" between the essay author's ideas and her sources, and also among the sources themselves. 2.5 and below evaluations will often summarize one point at a time, with the essay author's idea stated at the end. If you imagine a synthesis essay as a room in which the synthesis writer is joined by the authors of her/his sources, the 4.0, 3.5, or 3.0 essay has everyone engaged in conversation or debate, with everyone commenting on (or arguing against) each other's ideas directly. In the 2.5 and below essay, each person in the room stands up in turn, gives a speech, and sits down, with little or no question and answer period in between or afterward.
4. Take special care to address your audience in an appropriate manner. Make sure you establish your credibility on the subject and that you provide sufficient information to make your argument (thesis) convincing.
- 5. Organize your paper logically:
- A. State your thesis clearly and make sure that it reflects the focus of your essay.
- B. Make sure your main points are clearly stated (use topic sentences), and connect each point to your thesis as explicitly as possible.
- C. Divide paragraphs logically.
- D. Provide appropriate transitions both within and between paragraphs.
7. Select words precisely. When in doubt, use a dictionary!
8. Make sure sentences are clear and unambiguous. Avoid passive voice. Double-check to see that sentences are adequately varied in length and style, and that there are no fragments or run-ons. Also proofread carefully to correct any other sentence errors.
9. Proofread carefully to identify and correct mechanical errors, such as errors in plurals or possessives, subject-verb agreement, shifts in verb tense or person ("you"), comma errors, spelling errors, and so on.
10. Quadruple check your MLA documentation. Are your parenthetical citations correct? Is your Works Cited list correct according to MLA style, and does it include all sources cited in your essay?
11. Be sure to give your essay a descriptive and attention-getting title (NOT "Synthesis," for goodness sake!!!).
12. Make sure your essay is formatted correctly and posted to your web site correctly.
HOW TO WRITE SYNTHESIS ESSAYS
- Consider your purpose in writing. Read the topic assignment carefully. What are you trying to accomplish in your essay? How will this purpose shape the way you approach your sources?
- Select and carefully read your sources, according to your purpose. Re-read the sources, mentally summarizing each. Identify those aspects or parts of your sources that will help you in fulfilling your purpose. When rereading, label or underline the passages for main ideas, key terms, and any details you want to use in the synthesis.
- Formulate a thesis. Your thesis is the main idea that you want to present in your synthesis. It must be expressed as a complete sentence and include a statement of the topic and your assertion about that topic. Sometimes the thesis is the first sentence, but more often it is the final sentence of the first paragraph.
- Decide how you will use your source material and take notes. How will the information and the ideas in your sources help you to fulfill your purpose? Re-read your sources and write down the information from your sources that will best develop and support your thesis.
- Develop and organizational plan, according to your thesis. (See Techniques for Developing Synthesis Essays immediately below.) How will you arrange your material? It is not necessary to prepare a formal outline, but you should have some plan in mind that will indicate the order in which you will present your material and that will indicate the relationships among your sources.
- Write the first draft of your synthesis, following your organizational plan. Be flexible with your plan, however, and allow yourself room to incorporate new ideas you discover as you write. As you discover and incorporate new ideas, re-read your work frequently to ensure that your thesis still accounts for what follows and that what follows still logically supports your thesis.
- Document your sources. Use MLA-style in-text citations and a Works Cited list to credit your sources for all material you quote, paraphrase, or summarize. For example, if I wanted to note in my essay the difference between name-calling and argumentum ad hominem as personal forms of attack, I would credit the article on "Politics: The Art of Bamboozling" fromWARAC by offering a citation that includes the author's last name and the exact page number where she discussed this notion (Cross 302). At the end of the essay, I would have a complete bibliographic citation for the "Politics" article.
- Revise your synthesis. Insert transitional words and phrases where necessary. Integrate all quotations so they flow smoothly within your own sentences. Use attribution phrases to distinguish between your sources' ideas and your own ideas. Make sure the essay reads smoothly, logically, and clearly from beginning to end. Check for grammatical correctness, punctuation, and spelling.
TECHNIQUES FOR DEVELOPING SYNTHESIS ESSAYS
Summary can be useful - and sophisticated - if handled judiciously, selectively, and in combination with other techniques. At some time you may need to summarize a crucial source in some detail. At another point, you may wish to summarize a key section or paragraph of a source in a single sentence. Try to anticipate what your reader needs to know at any given point of your paper in order to comprehend or appreciate fully the point you are making.
EXAMPLE OR ILLUSTRATION: At one or more points in your paper, you may wish to refer to a particularly illuminating example or illustration from your source material. You might paraphrase this example (i.e., recount it, in some detail, in your own words), summarize it, or quote it directly from your source. In all these cases, of course, you would properly credit your source.
TWO (OR MORE) REASONS: The "two reasons" approach can be an extremely effective method of development. You simply state your thesis, then offer reasons why the statement is true, supported by evidence from your sources. You can advance as many reasons for the truth of your thesis as needed; but save the most important reason(s) for last, because the end of the paper is what will remain most clearly in the reader's mind.
STRAWMAN: When you use the strawman technique, you present an argument against your thesis, but immediately afterward you show that this argument is weak or flawed. The advantage of this technique is that you demonstrate your awareness of the other side of the argument and show that you are prepared to answer it. The strawman argument first presents an introduction and thesis, then the main opposing argument, a refutation of the opposing argument, and finally a positive argument.
CONCESSION: Like the strawman, the concession technique presents the opposing viewpoint, but it does not proceed to demolish the opposition. Instead, it concedes that the opposition has a valid point but that, even so, the positive argument is the stronger one. This method is particularly valuable when you know your reader holds the opposing view.
COMPARISON AND CONTRAST: Comparison and contrast techniques enable you to examine two subjects (or sources) in terms of one another. When you compare, you consider similarities. When you contrast, you consider differences. By comparing and contrasting, you perform a multifaceted analysis that often suggests subtleties that otherwise might not have come to your attention.
To organize a comparison/contrast analysis, you must carefully read sources in order to discover significant criteria for analysis. A criterion is a specific point to which both of your authors refer and about which they may agree or disagree. The best criteria are those that allow you not only to account for obvious similarities and differences between sources but also to plumb deeper, to more subtle and significant similarities and differences. There are two basic formulas for comparison/contrast analysis:
|I. Introduce essay, state thesis||I. Introduce essay, state thesis|
|II. Summarize passage A||II. Introduce Criterion 1|
|A. View on Criterion I||A. Passage A's viewpoint|
|B. View on Criterion 2||B. Passage B's viewpoint|
|III. Summarize passage B||III. Introduce Criterion 2|
|A. View on Criterion 1||A. Passage A's viewpoint|
|B. View on Criterion 2||B. Passage B's viewpoint|
|IV. Discussion and conclusion||IV. Discussion and conclusion|
Many sources of information exist: from college textbooks to academic journals and websites. Many students can’t handle the research properly, so they get stuck each time they try to understand how to write a synthesis essay. If you know the way to work with information, it is half the battle.
“What is a synthesis essay?” If you have this question, the information below shared by the professors from top colleges will be useful. How to write a synthesis essay AP English? A serious question requires a serious answer. Ask the online academic writers & editors for help without investing plenty of money to have any type of homework done due tomorrow!
How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Basic Knowledge
The way student writes his/her essay depends on the selected sources and amount of related information. Pick 2-5 texts to analyze. The main points to consider in this type of academic assignment are:
- What are the specific ideas discussed by each of the selected writers?
- Do the writers who come up with the same conclusion apply the same ideas or do they offer various ideas on a single topic to conclude in the same way?
- Do the 1st writer’s ideas support the opinions of another writer?
- Do the writers of the selected sources who disagree cover similar issue, or do they cover different aspects?
- Are any of the points mentioned the same points in various words?
The next point to highlight is the official definition of this type of academic essay, and the general essay writing structure called an outline.
What is a Synthesis Essay?
Before learning how to write a synthesis essay, it is critical to define this term. Synthesis refers to gathering data from various sources and creating a whole content out of it; an academic essay is a writing assignment teachers give to test student’s knowledge and skills on the particular topic. By combining these definitions, a student may guess what it means. Many sources of information exist: it is important to pick primary/secondary sources that are relevant, up-to-date (no older than 5 years), and credible (meaning a student can trust people who wrote that). Non-written sources are a good idea for inspiration. Be attentive during the class lectures, observations, and interviews.
The heart of such essay is extensive research on the assigned topic – the writer should know multiple approaches to bringing out a concept from various sources. The next stage is mixing them and creating a convective piece of writing. The goal of any essay is to draw reader’s attention to the existing problem no matter what the topic/field of study is.
How to Write a Synthesis Essay Outline?
The point-by-point structure is what every student needs to learn how to write a synthesis essay outline. An outline is similar to the table of contents. It contains the categories + subcategories on the given topic the writer plans to cover in the piece. An essay organization will look this way:
- Introduction with a hook & thesis statement.
- A single point discussed by 2 or more sources of information.
- A 2nd point covered by 2 or more sources.
- An optional section with a single or more basic points covered in a single article each.
- Conclusion with the restated thesis, summary, and powerful concluding sentence.
Synthesis Essay Outline: Specific Example of Organization
If the student works with a single source at a time, such “source-by-source” structure will be considered weak. It is not enough to provide a summary of each observed text. Synthesis is about bringing together, analyzing both, comparing & contrasting, whatever – it is not about exploring a single source. It is a good idea to come up with a couple of paragraphs before the conclusion to synthesize points discovered in several sources.
A source-by-source structure is the most popular. Here is an example of fair organization:
- Summary of text #1
- Summary of text #2
- Summary of text #3
- Synthesis paragraph – a single commonality among the analyzed texts
- Synthesis paragraph – one more similar trait shared by the analyzed texts
- Conclusion with some predictions and implementations
If you need a particular example, look at this one:
- Introduction (High school football, “Nowhere to run: Consequences of high school football” by Robert Wayne and “The impact of high school football on students’ scores” by John Legman, thesis statement: “There is a strong correlation between the low high school scores and participating in local sports activities, especially football team.”
- Introduce 1st idea related to the topic: Those who join high school football teams tend to show a rapid drop in academic performance during the semester.
- Text #1 perspective on that topic
- Text #2 perspective on that theme
- A 2nd idea related to the topic: High school football team member initiate bullying. Both performance and behavior suffer.
Text #2 treatment of the issue
Synthesis Essay Introduction
Students who wonder how to write an AP English synthesis essay should begin with the synthesis essay introduction. In AP English test, synthesis essay is a common phenomenon. To give your essay a chance to survive with the high score, it is important to make the audience want to read the paper from cover to cover. In this case, the audience is made of the strict graders, which makes the mission complicated.
If a student opens his essay with a powerful hook sentence, the chances of writing a successful piece go up. Try these ideas:
End up the introduction with the thesis statement. Find some examples in this article.
If a student experiences problems with starting the essay or overcoming a writer’s block, he/she should try using one of the special writing applications.
The Principle of Writing a Synthesis Essay Thesis
A synthesis essay thesis serves as the main argument of the entire paper. It is a full sentence or few that identify the academic essay on a chosen topic in a significant manner. A thesis should be impressive as an essay title. A student must stress the importance of the discussed topic and focus on one of the existing opinions towards the issue. A thesis should not sound weak/general – narrow it down! A thesis should come across as a probing question the writer is trying to answer/defend in the eventual lines of the text.
Synthesis Essay Conclusion Example
For a better understanding of synthesis essay conclusion example, have a look below.
“With the help of field experts like Robert Wayne and John Legman along with their studies called “Nowhere to run: Consequences of high school football” and “The impact of high school football on students” respectively, the essay proved that a strong correlation between the high school football engagement and drop in academic performance exist in most of the United States educational institutions, but football is not the primary cause. There is not enough information to make a final decision. Among other possible causes, the researchers name regular depressions and stresses associated with the family conflicts, overloaded homework schedule, and problems with girlfriends/boyfriends.”
15 Synthesis Essay Topics for Beginners
The last thing to include in this informative article is a list of good synthesis essay topics.
- Write an essay describing the impact of World War II on Eastern Europe
- Influence of social media on college students
- Impact of texting on teens’ grammar
- Talk about the mindset of ISIS hardliners
- The universal system of patriarchy and its outcomes
- An insight into e-commerce
- Positive awareness of the sexual education among adolescents
- In-depth analysis of the algorithms that make cryptocurrency work
- The impact of American art on modern European music
- The evolution of beauty standards throughout centuries
- The policy of expansionism of some Asian countries
- Influence of housing estates on ecology
- The way high school football harms the student’s academic performance
- Deforestation & agriculture
- The steps taken by different nationalities to fight global warming issues
Synthesis Essay Example: Smallpox
Students who require examples to understand the topic better should focus on this section. We offer a good essay example written on the medical topic.
“The paper is focused on smallpox, s severe disease with the possible fatal outcome that has influenced the entire history of medicine. The in-depth study of the health condition has led to the appearance of a new treatment. It prevented millions of people over the course of history from death and gave a chance to humanity to overcome other serious illnesses.
“Amherst and Smallpox,” an article taken from NativeWeb, defines smallpox as a deadly disease spread by some virus. Through the lungs, the virus penetrates the entire lymphatic system and may infect the blood.
“Smallpox: Only Adults Suffer” article by Kelly Donor insists on the fact that this disease is not that threatening today as the prevention measures are stronger. The writer proves her words with the help of recent studies. They show the significant drop in fatal outcomes during the last decade.
Both of the explored sources agree that a special program of vaccinations by The World Health Organization made smallpox one of the 2 infectious illnesses that have been eradicated in full. It means that severer health conditions exist without any effective treatment. Unlike Donor, NativeWeb authors do not think everything is over; they insist that the final traces of the virus should be destroyed to guarantee the safety from this disease.”
To sum up, to learn how to write a good synthesis essay, a student should discover more about the world of research. If it is about learning how to write an AP English synthesis essay, it is important to open the official AP website with the current requirements and study the grading rubric to understand what to focus on. Does it sound difficult? You have a way out if you are running out of time and nerves. Contact professional academic writers for hire at any time of day/night to have an academic homework done within the set timeframes. Writing can be easier than you think.