« Student Guidelines for Formal, In-Class, Oral Presentations | Main | Scholarly Articles: What Are They & How Are They Found? »

September 08, 2008

Synthesis Essays: What Are They and How Are They Written?

Source of Images: http://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/lsu/content/4_WritingSkills/writing_tuts/synthesising_LL/model.html

8 September 2008


Per your upcoming assignment options, some of you are still asking, "What is a Synthesis Paper?"

According to Washington State's Evergreen State College,

Synthesis means putting ideas from many sources together in one essay or presentation. After reading several books, watching movies and participating in a variety of class activities, your task is to . . .

. . . organize some of the information around a theme or a question, make generalizations, and then present information (statistics, quotes, examples) in a logical way to support your argument. Remind yourself that a synthesis is NOT a summary, a comparison or a review. Rather a synthesis is a result of an integration of what you heard/read and your ability to use this learning to develop and support a key thesis or argument. Learning to write a synthesis paper is a critical skill, crucial to organizing and presenting information is academic and non-academic settings."

SOURCE:"What is a Synthesis Paper?" The Evergreen State College. Olympia, Washington. 8 September 2008


Colorado State University (link found HERE), explains that the synthesis paper is a "more complex response to assigned readings." The synthesis paper/essay

asks students to work with several readings and to draw commonalities out of those readings. Particularly when individual readings over-simplify a topic or perspectives on a question in your course, the synthesis paper guarantees that students grapple with the complexity of issues and ideas.


Similarly, the website of Empire State College (State University of New York) explains that a synthesis paper can be explained as an essay that expects you

to use your writing to show that you have understood all the readings included in the assignment, and you are expected to synthesize the readings, to bring them together, in some interesting way around a central question. One key to successful synthesis papers is to bring your own voice and ideas into the paper sufficiently to actually direct the flow of the paper. If you find yourself just pasting together summaries of the readings in some kind of order, stop! You should find yourself, instead, identifying some interesting question that has grown out of your reading (you instructor may actually specify the question) and answering it. Your answer will usually become the thesis statement that directs the paper. You will use your reading, then, to develop your thesis--showing your reader what you mean by it and why you believe it is true. Tip: Knowledgeable students often include more than the required readings in the bibliographies of their papers.

*To learn more, please follow the Empire State College links below to learn MORE about what writing an academic synthesis paper entails:


A Sample Synthesis Paper can be found here: http://www.esc.edu/esconline/across_esc/writerscomplex.nsf/0/9526310C1C96BD80852569EE00551A86

Another sample synthesis paper in APA format, by Aileen Buslig of the University of Arizona, can be found (and read) at this link: http://www.cord.edu/faculty/buslig/201Ppr2ClassExmpl.html


The best resource on synthesis papers, especially thesis-driven ones, can be found in a page done for Drew University by Rebecca Moore Howard and Sandra Jamieson. They remind us that:

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. The key to any kind of synthesis is the same.

For the full article, a site you should definitely visit if you want to truly understand the ins-and-outs of a synthesis paper, please visit the link HERE.

SOURCE: Howard, Rebecca Moore and Sandra Jamieson. "Synthesis Writing." Drew University Online Resources for Writers. Drew University. 28 September 2008 [http://www.users.drew.edu/sjamieso/Synthesis.htm].


The "Study and Learning Centre" website (link HERE) of Australia's RMIT University reminds you that, when synthesizing the scholarly material of several sources into one document:

* Read relevant material.
* Make brief notes using keypoints / keywords. This makes it easier to compare and contrast relevant information.
* Identify common ideas.
* Cite (reference) all the authors you have used.

See the .jpg images at the top of this entry to see how RMIT U. has demonstrated this process in a nutshell.


PDF versions of some of these documents have also been sent to you as attachments in your e-mail. Please download, print, staple, read, and put in your course handouts folder.

Hope this helps to clarify.

See you in class,

Dr. Hobbs

Posted by lhobbs at September 8, 2008 12:06 PM

Readers' Comments:

My Blog

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some rights reserved. 2006.