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Synthesis Essay. What is a synthesis essay?.

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what is a synthesis essay
What is a synthesis essay?
  • 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.

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?

argument synthesis
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.
step 1 before writing
Step 1: Before Writing
  • Collect your sources on the topic
  • Familiarize yourself with what others have written about the topic
  • Write a brief summary of each of your sources
  • Examine the evidence that other writers have used to support or to argue against the issue
  • Formulate your own thesis, after reflecting on your research
step 2 prewrite
Step 2: Prewrite
  • Using your thesis as a starting point, freewrite, brainstorm, question or map out ideas on the topic
  • Using the pre-writing material you generate, create a scratch outline
  • Note: It is ALWAYS wise to create a short scratch outline for your essays. However, for synthesis essays, this step is essential if you are to clearly and logically organize your multiple sources
step 3 write
Step 3: Write
  • Using the topic sentences and your scratch outline, write the essay
  • Using the summaries you wrote for each of your sources (see Step One), add these quotations, facts and opinions to prove each of your key points
  • HINT: DO NOT include lengthy summaries of your sources in your essay but very brief summaries that support your thesis directly and clearly
works cited
Works Cited
  • Include a Works Cited page at the end

of the essay, essentially a list of your sources

synthesis essay1
Synthesis Essay
  • Essay must be 3-4 pages
  • Must include a works cited pages (not part of the 3-4 pages of text)
  • You need to use at least 3 sources
  • 12-point font, Times New Roman