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Source Synthesis. ESL501 Created by Katherine Wu Modified by Jihye Yoon. Defining Synthesis. What does it mean to synthesize? What, then, does it mean to synthesize sources? Why is it important to synthesize sources in a literature review?.

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Source synthesis

Source Synthesis

ESL501

Created by Katherine Wu

Modified by Jihye Yoon


Defining synthesis
Defining Synthesis

  • What does it mean to synthesize?

  • What, then, does it mean to synthesize sources?

  • Why is it important to synthesize sources in a literature review?


Source synthesis

  • Synthesis: to combine separate elements to form a whole

  • A literature review should show that you have understanding about other works that are related to your research question.

  • In a lit review, such understanding should be demonstrated by

    • Make connections and clarify relationships among the ideas of the source materials

    • Organize the text topic-by-topic instead of source by source


Source synthesis examination
Source Synthesis Examination

  • What are the organizing principles of text A and text B?

  • Highlight the topic sentences of each paragraph.

  • Which text synthesized the sources better?

  • What are some characteristics that make a good source synthesis?


Source synthesis

  • One strategy to help you get organized: Drawing a grid!


  • Using a grid to organize sources
    Using a Grid to Organize Sources

    Research Question: What are the purposes of ESL classes in universities?

    • Step1: List out the main ideas of each source


    Source synthesis

    E.g. According to recent literature that discusses the purposes of ESL classes, there are four main functions. To begin with, author A and author D point out that ESL classes help students with their grammar errors….In addition, both author A and author B states that ESL classes help students form communities and develop better relationships….Furthermore, many experts, including author A, C and D claims that one of the students learn organization skills….Finally, author B, C and D, all emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of plagiarism in ESL classes in accordance with university policies.


    Steps to creating a grid
    Steps to Creating a Grid your source synthesis

    • Step1: List out the main ideas of each source

    • Step2: Based on the recurring topics in the grid, organize your source synthesis by topics instead of sources


    Sample grids
    Sample Grids your source synthesis

    • You can also create a grid based on research methods and results


    Practice creating a grid
    Practice Creating a Grid! your source synthesis

    • Research Question: Are Richer People Happier?

    • Fill out the grid based on the provided 5 sources.

      Step1: List out the main ideas in each source

      Step2: Based on the recurring topics in the grid, organize your source synthesis by topics instead of sources


    Writing the synthesis
    Writing the Synthesis your source synthesis

    • For each main idea that recurs among the sources, create a topic sentence that both

      1) Synthesize the literature to be discussed

      2) Describe the literature to be discussed

      E.g. 1) Much of the literature points out that whole capital punishment does not stop crime, most Americans still believe that it does stop crime.

      E.g. 2) Not only does the literature agree that capital punishment does not stop crime, Prejean, Fitzpatrick and Marshall also suggests that capital punishment may in fact cause more crime.


    Source synthesis

    • Now support the topic sentences you created, with summaries, paraphrases or quotations.

    • Make sure to use clear transitions.

    • Make sure your supporting details are directly related to the topic sentence (Do not include minor details that are unrelated, but included in the source).

    • Do NOT plagiarize! Make sure you are citing sources appropriately.