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Synthesizing Information: Thinking Critically about Incorporating Sources into your research. Kevin Klipfel, Information Literacy Coordinator , California State University, Chico. kklipfel@csuchico.edu. Synthesizing Sources into Research.

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synthesizing information thinking critically about incorporating sources into your research

Synthesizing Information:Thinking Critically about Incorporating Sources into your research

Kevin Klipfel, Information Literacy Coordinator, California State University, Chico.

kklipfel@csuchico.edu

synthesizing sources into research
Synthesizing Sources into Research
  • One of the major research skills you’ll need to develop in order to do successful college level research is the ability to effectively “synthesize” the research sources you found into your own work.
  • By synthesize we mean that you combine the research you’ve found with your own work and turn it into one coherent, well-organized, piece of research.
  • This module will offer some principles designed to help you effectively incorporate information into your research.
when do you synthesize
When do you Synthesize?
  • Synthesizing information is one of the last steps of the research process: you’ve gone through the process of choosing a topic; found the information you need; understand the claims you want to make in your paper; and now you’re about to actually write your paper (or speech, or Ted Talk) and want to figure out how to best way incorporate the research you’ve done into your final product.
synthesizing information what will my research product look like
Synthesizing Information: What Will my Research Product Look Like?
  • One strategy is to imagine what your assignment might look like (Paper, Ted Talk, etc.).
  • What is my overall argument? How am I going to present this information to my audience? What information do I want to present in the intro? In the main body/argument of the paper? In the conclusion?
  • Thinking this way will help you take the information you’ve found from your research and synthesize it using the best source(s) for your current purposes.
using sources citing your information as evidence
Using Sources: Citing your Information as Evidence
  • One of the main reasons to use sources in your paper is to verify, or provide support for the claims you make in your paper.
  • You can think of citations as providing an answer to the question, “Why should someone reading this believe what I’m saying?”
  • For example, suppose I want to write a paper about why college students don’t get enough sleep and I open with the claim, “College students sleep less than other segments of the population.”
  • Well, I can’t just say that. I have to find good, empirical evidence to cite in support of that claim.
  • This citation would function as (1) evidence to support your point and (2) a way for your reader to verify what you said to find out if it’s really true.
context
Context
  • A helpful trick for effectively synthesizing information into your research is to ask yourself yourself: What am I trying to do right now?
    • Define what is meant by a particular term?
    • Provide evidence/supportfor something I just said in my paper?
    • Argue for a more abstract, philosophical point?
    • This will help you understand the proper kind of evidence – or source type – to use in your citation.
examples definitions
Examples: Definitions
  • Suppose you are writing about organic farming and why organically farmed foods are better than non-organic foods. Thinking about your paper outline, you’ll first need to define what you mean by organic farming. What kind of source would be good for that? There are several that might work.
    • A reputable governmental agency.
    • A quality encyclopedia.
    • A scholarly article on the topic.
examples empirical claims
Examples: Empirical Claims
  • An empirical claim is a statement made about the world of the senses. For example, what if I wanted to argue in a paper that you should be yourself, because people who are true to themselves lead more happy, meaningful lives. What kind of evidence would support that claim?
    • Here I might cite a very specific, empirical study from a scholarly journal article.
summing up key points
Summing Up: Key Points
  • When thinking about successfully synthesizing sources into your research, there are a couple key strategies to remember.
    • 1. Think about the key points and the overall argument you want to make in your paper. Structure your research with those key points in mind.
    • 2. Think about context: Ask yourself, “What kind of evidence do I need to support the claim I am making right now?”
contact a librarian
Contact a Librarian
  • If you have any questions, don’t forget to contact a librarian: we’re more than happy to help!

For questions about this module, or how to incorporate this module into specific courses, contact:

Kevin Klipfel, Information Literacy Coordinator, California State University, Chico. Contact: kklipfel@csuchico.edu