Synthesis Essay Writing

Synthesis Writing

Although at its most basic level a synthesis involves combining two or more summaries, synthesis writing is more difficult than it might at first appear because this combining must be done in a meaningful way and the final essay must generally be thesis-driven.  In composition courses, “synthesis” commonly refers to writing about printed texts, drawing together particular themes or traits that you observe in those texts and organizing the material from each text according to those themes or traits.  Sometimes you may be asked to synthesize your own ideas, theory, or research with those of the texts you have been assigned. In your other college classes you'll probably find yourself synthesizing  information from graphs and tables, pieces of music, and art works as well.  Thekey to any kind of synthesis is the same. 
 

Synthesis in Every Day Life

Whenever you report to a friend the things several other friends have said about a film or CD you engage in synthesis.  People synthesize information naturally to help other see the connections between things they learn;  for example, you have probably stored up a mental data bank of the various things you've heard about particular professors.  If your data bank contains several negative comments, you might synthesize that information and use it to help you decide not to take a class from that particular professor.  Synthesis is related to but not the same as classification, division, or comparison and contrast.  Instead of attending to categories or finding similarities and differences, synthesizing sources is a matter of pulling them together into some kind of harmony.  Synthesis searches for links between materials for the purpose of constructing a thesis or theory.

Synthesis Writing Outside of College

The basic research report (described below as a background synthesis) is very common in the business world.  Whether one is proposing to open a new store or expand a product line, the report that must inevitably be written will synthesize information and arrange it by topic rather than by source.  Whether you want to present information on child rearing to a new mother, or details about your town to a new resident, you'll find yourself synthesizing too. And just as in college, the quality and usefulness of your synthesis will depend on your accuracy and organization.

Key Features of a Synthesis
(1)  It accurately reports information from the sources using different phrases and sentences;
(2)  It is organized in such a way that readers can immediately see where the information from the sources overlap;.
(3)  It makes sense of the sources and helps the reader understand them in greater depth.
The background synthesis requires that you bring  together background information on a topic and organize it by topic rather than by source.  Instructors often assign background syntheses at the early stages of the research process, before students have developed a thesis--and they can be helpful to students conducting large research projects even if they are not assigned.  In a background synthesis of  Internet information that could help prospective students select a college, for example, one paragraph might discuss residential life and synthesize brief descriptions of the kinds of things students might find out about living on campus (cited of course), another might discuss the academic program, again synthesizing information from the web sites of several colleges, while a third might synthesize information about co-curricular activities.  The completed paper would be a wonderful introduction to internet college searching.  It contains no thesis, but it does have a purpose:  to present the information that is out there in a helpful and logical way. 

In the process of writing his or her background synthesis, the student explored the sources in a new way and become an expert on the topic.  Only when one has reached this degree of expertise is one ready to formulate a thesis.  Frequently writers of background synthesis papers develop a thesis before they have finished.  In the previous example, the student might notice that no two colleges seem to agree on what constitutes "co-curricular," and decide to research this question in more depth, perhaps examining trends in higher education and offering an argument about what this newest trend seems to reveal.  [More information on developing a research thesis.] 

[See also "Preparing to Write the Synthesis Essay," "Writing the Synthesis Essay," and "Revision."]
A Thesis-driven Synthesis

Sometimes there is very little obvious difference between a background synthesis and a thesis-driven synthesis, especially if the paper answers the question "what information must we know in order to understand this topic, and why?"  The answer to that question forms the thesis of the resulting paper, but it may not be a particularly controversial thesis.  There may be some debate about what background information is required, or about why, but in most cases the papers will still seem more like a report than an argument.  The difference will be most visible in the topic sentences to each paragraph because instead of simply introducing the material for the paragraph that will follow, they will also link back to the thesis and assert that this information is essential because... 

On the other hand, all research papers are also synthesis papers in that they combine the information you have found in ways that help readers to see that information and the topic in question in a new way.  A research paper with a weak thesis (such as: "media images of women help to shape women's sense of how they should look") will organize its findings to show how this is so without having to spend much time discussing other arguments (in this case, other things that also help to shape women's sense of how they should look).  A paper with a strong thesis (such as "the media is the single most important factor in shaping women's sense of how they should look") will spend more time discussing arguments that it rejects (in this case, each paragraph will show how the media is more influential than other factors in that particular aspect of women's sense of how they should look"). 

[See also thesis-driven research papers.]
[See also "Preparing to Write the Synthesis Essay," "Writing the Synthesis Essay," and "Revision."]

A Synthesis of the Literature

In many upper level social sciences classes you may be asked to begin research papers with a synthesis of the sources.  This part of the paper which may be one paragraph or several pages depending on the length of the paper--is similar to the background synthesis.  Your primary purpose is to show readers that you are familiar with the field and are thus qualified to offer your own opinions.  But your larger purpose is to show that in spite of all  this wonderful research, no one has addressed the problem in the way that you intend to in your paper.  This gives your synthesis a purpose, and even a thesis of sorts. 

Because each discipline has specific rules and expectations, you should consult your professor or a guide book for that specific discipline if you are asked to write a review of the literature and aren't sure how to do it.

[See also "Preparing to Write the Synthesis Essay," "Writing the Synthesis Essay," and "Revision."]

Preparing to write your Synthesis Essay

Regardless of whether you are synthesizing information from prose sources, from laboratory data, or from tables and graphs, your preparation for the synthesis will very likely involvecomparison. It may involve analysis, as well, along with classification, and division as you work on your organization. 

Sometimes the wording of your assignment will direct you to what sorts of themes or traits you should look for in your synthesis.  At other times, though, you may be assigned two or more sources and told to synthesize them.  In such cases you need to formulate your own purpose, and develop your own perspectives and interpretations.  A systematic preliminary comparison will help. Begin by summarizing briefly the points, themes, or traits that the texts have in common (you might find summary-outline notesuseful here).  Explore different ways to organize the information depending on what you find or what you want to demonstrate (see above).  You might find it helpful to make several different outlines or plans before you decide which to use.  As the most important aspect of a synthesis is its organization, you can't spend too long on this aspect of your paper!

Writing The Synthesis Essay

A synthesis essay should be organized so that others can understand the sources and evaluate your comprehension of them and their presentation of specific data, themes, etc.
The following format works well: 

The introduction (usually one paragraph)
    1.    Contains a one-sentence statement that sums up the focus of your synthesis.
    2.    Also introduces the texts to be synthesized:
            (i)  Gives the title of each source (following the citation guidelines of whatever style  
                  sheet you are using);  
            (ii)  Provides the name of each author;
            (ii)  Sometimes also provides pertinent background information about the authors, 
                  about the texts to be summarized, or about the general topic from which the 
                  texts are drawn. 

The body of a synthesis essay:
This should be organized by theme, point, similarity, or aspect of the topic.  Your organization will be determined by the assignment or by the patterns you see in the material you are synthesizing.  The organization is the most important part of a synthesis, so try out more than one format.
    Be sure that each paragraph:
    1.     Begins with a sentence or phrase that informs readers of the topic of the paragraph;
    2.     Includes information from more than one source;
    3.     Clearly indicates which material comes from which source using lead in phrases and
            in-text citations.  [Beware of plagiarism:  Accidental plagiarism most often occurs
            when students are synthesizing sources and do not indicate where the synthesis 
            ends and their own comments begin or vice verse.]
    4.    Shows the similarities or differences between the different sources in ways that make
            the paper as informative as possible;
    5.    Represents the texts fairly--even if that seems to weaken the paper! Look upon
            yourself as a synthesizing machine;  you are simply repeating what the source says,
            in fewer words and in your own words.  But the fact that you are using your own 
            words does not mean that you are in anyway changing what the source says. 

Conclusion.
When you have finished your paper, write a conclusion reminding readers of the most significant themes you have found and the ways they connect to the overall topic.  You may also want to suggest further research or comment on things that it was not possible for you to discuss in the paper. If you are writing a background synthesis, in some cases it may be appropriate for you to offer an interpretation of the material or take a position (thesis).  Check this option with your instructor before you write the final draft of your paper. 

Checking your own writing or that of your peers

Read a peer's synthesis and then answer the questions below.  The information provided will help the writer check that his or her paper does what he or she intended (for example, it is not necessarily wrong for a synthesis to include any of the writer's opinions, indeed, in a thesis-driven paper this is essential; however, the reader must be able to identify which opinions originated with the writer of the paper and which came from the sources).
  1. What do you like best about your peer's synthesis? (Why? How might he or she do more of it?);
  2. Is it clear what is being synthesized? (i.e.: Did your peer list the source(s), and cite it/them correctly?);
  3. Is it always clear which source your peer is talking about at any given moment? (Mark any places where it is not clear);
  4. Is the thesis of each original text clear in the synthesis? (Write out what you think each thesis is);
  5. If you have read the same sources,
    1. did you identify the same theses as your peer? (If not, how do they differ?);
    2. did your peer miss any key points from his or her synthesis? (If so, what are they?);
    3. did your peer include any of his own opinions in his or her synthesis? (If so, what are they?);
  6. Where there any points in the synthesis where you were lost because a transition was missing or material seems to have been omitted?  (If so, where and how might it be fixed?);
  7. What is the organizational structure of the synthesis essay? (It might help to draw a plan/diagram);
  8. Does this structure work?  (If not, how might your peer revise it?);
  9. How is each paragraph structured?  (It might help to draw a plan/diagram);
  10. Is this method effective?  (If not, how should your peer revise?);
  11. Was there a mechanical, grammatical, or spelling error that annoyed you as you read the paper?  (If so, how could the author fix it?  Did you notice this error occurring more than once?)  Do not comment on every typographical or other error you see.  It is a waste of time to carefully edit a paper before it is revised!
  12. What other advice do you have for the author of this paper?

Sandra Jamieson, Drew University. 1999
Adapted from material written by Rebecca Moore Howard and Sandra Jamieson.
This work is provided free of charge under aCreative Commons License (click here to read the conditions governing use)
For permission to print and use this page, pleasecontact Sandra Jamieson by e-mail.

All you, probably, know what an essay means. But the word “synthesis” gets every student a little bit confused and lost. Well, fortunately, we know how to help you, and this article would be your ultimate writing guide explaining how to write a synthesis essay. Let’s start from the beginning.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

Many students wonder, “What is a synthesis essay?” A synthesis essay is all about combination. While writing this essay type, you stay focused on different factors and ideas at once. The task contains a sample text that an author should analyze.

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Actually, analysis of the given content is a key point in the entire synthesis essay writing. You need to work directly with that prompt and find its purpose, writing style, rhetoric, and the main argument. You must tell what the author of that prompt wanted to express and what his tools were. Your own essay should be built around that text and your main argument.

Having an answer to the question, “What is a synthesis essay?” is not enough to demonstrate the best results in your English writing class.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay?

To understand how to write a synthesis essay, it is necessary to memorize 4 basic elements of a synthesis paper:

  1. Synthesizing sources
  2. Working on a thesis/main argument
  3. Formatting the paper
  4. Talking about the content

A writer is given a prompt to study. These are the instructions prepared by the tutor (e.g., ‘argue to support your hobby which assists in challenging college assignments’).

Draft a tentative thesis statement – the main argument of the entire paper. It is the initial idea which comes to the writer’s mind on the proposed topic. Without a good research, it is impossible to make a candy out of this idea; support your words by the credible information you find either online or in the library. An example: “I think my passion for drinking Coke positively impacts my academic performance as caffeine stimulates brain activity.”

Once the thesis is ready, move to the time-consuming procedure of selecting sources. This is a primary research one must conduct to gather evidence. The sources make people believe the writer’s claim makes sense. You may study information from 6-7 good sources, but a couple of them will help to develop a powerful thesis statement. Among all sources, use credible, up-to-date pieces:

  • Books and e-books
  • Other essays
  • Journal and scholarly articles
  • Graphics and images
  • Documentaries
  • Websites

The credibility of sources depends on the relevance of chosen topic. The close reading is the process which follows any good research. Prepare annotated bibliography (list applied sources), highlight all main text ideas, and take notes during this procedure. Try to connect the best ideas with your synthesis essay writing.

Synthesis Essay Example (Sources)

Evaluating the value of the selected sources is the thing you should do before writing a synthesis essay. try to come up with innovative ideas for the prompt.

To understand how to interpret the prompt and choose sources, we have prepared several examples associated with Coke. You have chosen 8 different sources to speed up your writing. The writer decides Sources number 2, 3, and 4 agree with the main view (thesis). These sources help to prove drinking Coke assists in improving academic performance.

Source 2. Your synthesis paper writing benefits from choosing a documentary about the production of Coke. The documentary reflects the entire process, listing ingredients necessary for the proper human brain activity. The documentary provides necessary information to make your essay essential.

Source 3. One of the English synthesis essays you choose from the existing academic archives online explains the impacts Coke has on some other body parts.

Source 4. Select a source in English which breaks negative stereotypes about your favorite drink. Many parents do not allow their children drink this beverage because of the existing myths; try to prove the opposite using your essay’s arguments. An expert adds:

“If it is a presentation, use the graphic story to illustrate your thesis and supporting evidence. Show the never-ending confrontation between the Coke lovers and haters to prove you respect both sides. Do not ignore naming the negative effects of the drink! It is important to reply to any objections to provide the target audience with an unbiased point of view.”

Mary Ladder, Professor of Literature at GONZAGA UNIVERSITY, US

Types of Synthesis Essay Writing

Two types of synthesis essay writing exist:

  • Explanatory synthesis essay
  • Argument synthesis essay

The explanatory synthesis essay aims to make the reading audience understand the chosen topic. The writer makes an attempt to break the whole topic into separate parts to represent each of them clearly. The explanatory essay is made of the detailed interpretations of objects, locations, events, people, or state of affairs. The writer reflects information in an objective, sober manner. The writer skips obvious details of the analyzed text. Such paper tends to have different sections.

The argument synthesis essay is about proving your main claim is correct through using various effective persuasive methods. A student must apply credible sources in English to support his information. The argumentative synthesis essay writing involves many facts, statistics, in-text citations, quotes, and other techniques used to prove the specific view.

Synthesis Essay Topics

Your synthesis paper should be built around a prompt with perspective for negotiation and discussion. For example, you may analyze text written in Germany during WWII and get your argument with view on modern society and history of that period. It should be content with various views possible. Some good topics to write your synthesis essay:

Good synthesis essay topics would be ones that are debatable, for example:

  • DST (Daylight Saving Time)
  • Abortions
  • Wage and its minimum
  • Immigration
  • Globalization
  • Nature protection
  • Weapon control
  • Social media and its influence on humanity

How to Write a Thesis for a Synthesis Essay?

You need to read the prompt. Even if you are familiar with the target source, push yourself to read it once more; realize your position. Do you support the example text or have a negative review? Structure your claim and write it down for the whole synthesis essay; move to the synthesis essay outline.

Synthesis essay outline writing

Lots of students just don’t realize how important this step is for writing any type of essay or other academic papers. It is the best point to get your essay structure right. The outline is your road map. If you write a typical synthesis essay with three parts (Introduction, Body, Conclusion), you should write three different parts in your outline. Write down all the arguments, supporting facts, and evidence in a proper structure order.

Each argument should approve the statement you are supporting; acknowledge factors that go against your main thesis and idea. This step will make your essay even stronger and more diverse. Please note, that analysis does not mean summarizing - you need to answer related topic questions.

Synthesis essay structure

Synthesis has typical structure, and it looks like that:

Introduction

Thesis

  • Main argument 1
  • Main claim 2
  • Main claim 3

Body

Main argument 1

  • Evidence
  • Analysis of Evidence

Main claim 2

  • Evidence Analysis of Evidence

Main claim 3

  • Evidence
  • Analysis of Evidence

Conclusion

  • Restate your main idea and get your view straight

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Synthesis essay formatting

The formats of synthesis essay are also typical for all academic essays. Three most widespread formats include MLA, APA, and Chicago style. Each of these formats has their typical areas of use (APA is mostly used in Psychology, Education, and Science). Chicago style is a common format for business purposes; MLA works best for Humanities.

Synthesis Essay for AP English Language and Composition

AP English Language and Composition is a tough course of dealing with. The main goal of this course is to your knowledge of the subject and understanding of the material you are working with. And your grammar and perfect formatting do not pay that big role in your essay grade. The main factor that influences your grade is about defending your claim and point of view.

Three main areas of AP English and Composition course that you should focus on are:

  • The argument is the starting and the simplest point. You just need to come up with your statement and get many supporting facts. It all should work to convince your reader that your view is right.
  • Synthesis is the thing that requires some deep research and identifying various areas of one single text. You should identify the agreements and disagreements between sources. It will help to come up with your claim.
  • Rhetorical analysis is the direct work with prompt and its author; find what was his rhetorical tools to appeal to the reader. What was the main idea about the text?

General Synthesis Essay Tips

We should talk about acronyms. Main ones that will help you to deal with this essay are:

Speaker: Write who was the speaker or writer of the original source. Tell what you know about his life and background.

Occasion: Identity what was the time and place when the source of your synthesis essay was created; get the reason why it was created. You may come up with your own suggestion and build your text around it.

Audience: Identify the audience of the original text

Purpose: Identify the tone and purpose of the text

Subject: What was the main claim in original piece?

Another strategy to write your synthesis essay: these three points appeal to different factors that you should identify and analyze.

Logos is the reason. If your sample text has various definitions and quotations, you need to constitute a wider range of backup info to get successful with your essay.

Ethos is philosophy: Apply to sources that demonstrate credibility and reliability of speaker.

Pathos is emotions. It works great for vivid imagery texts with strong language - connect your reader with your source emotionally. It is a tough task to change someone’s view if the person is already linked to the source emotionally.

It is a simple explanation of these three elements. To get a higher grade with your AP Lang, you need to read more about it.

1 last tip to write your synthetic essay well is to apply this scheme to your analysis. Get these five factors identified: Diction, Imagery, Details, Language, and Structure – feel free to add anything else to your analysis in case it is special.

How to get a higher grade with your essay?

Few main factors that influence your grade for synthetic essay writing:

  • The effective statement about assigned source and its topic.
  • Complete understanding of the source and its subject.
  • Synthesis of sources and position identification.
  • Writer appeals to his researched arguments, not the source itself.
  • Convincing and effective arguments.
  • Clear structure and writing style.
  • Good organization.
  • No grammar or structure mistakes.
  • Quotation of the source.

You should note that the best essays with highest grades always are those with the strong writing style. It means that your essay should be a standalone piece - not just a simple exam essay to get it done. Try to develop your own writing style and get your soul into your essay. You may read some examples of the most popular and successful essays to borrow some ideas and other factors to make your own paper stronger.

Some Extra Essay Writing Advice

Well, these were basic tips and facts about s synthesis essay and its writing specifics. It is recommended to read more about analyzing AP English essays from other sources on the web - it will help you to develop a stronger view of the task itself. The most important thing you need to pay attention to is the thesis statement.

This point plays a great role in your essay, and you need to identify it perfectly; it will be a total failure if readers will not understand your view. All your arguments will look like no purpose and ridiculous.

What we want to advice is to ask yourself a question if your thesis statement is really about your feelings and view. If you are writing your essay with some too short deadline on an exam, you need to stress on your argument in every single paragraph. Then connect each of your ideas to the thesis statement. Write down your thesis statement and put it before dealing with your essay - it will help you to focus on it and add it every time you write a new paragraph.

How does a Great Synthesis Essay Example look?

Synthesis essay writing in English is difficult without having a high-quality synthesis essay example in front of your eyes. Students find many free samples of synthesis essay writing in English online. Keep in mind it is important to decide on the synthesis essay type. Mind topic before searching the examples.

If you’re looking for someone to help you with this tough task, you can always call our professionals. Fill in the simplest order form, and all your academic troubles will be solved immediately.

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