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 non-written 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.
Things To Keep In Mind Before Writing A Synthesis Essay
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. 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.
Because a synthesis is based on two or more sources, you will need to be selective when choosing information from each. 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.
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 synthesizing. 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.
How To Write A Synthesis Essay
- 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. 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.
- 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.
Hopefully after reading this, you have got a concise idea as to how a synthesis essay is written. You have an idea as to how to select a topic, form the outline and present your ideas in a serial and coherent manner. Remember that practice makes everything perfect, so here are some practice topics that might help you in honing your skills.
- How did the 2nd World War affect Germany in comparison with other nations?
- What signs of patriarchy are left behind and which persist?
- What are the approaches to dealing with global warming in different nations?
- How effective is secondary education today?
- How does the chaotic deforestation in some countries affect the global agriculture?
- Does sex education at schools raise awareness as good as it should?
- How effective and convenient are passenger airlines today?
- What makes the idea of community market so appealing?
- How the new forms of correspondence (texting and chatting) affect overall literacy?
- How do social media change the everyday life of a student?