When you are told to write a synthesis essay by your teacher, it may appear to be a mammoth task. What is a synthesis paper anyway? The first step is to understand what the word synthesis means. To synthesize means to combine separate components of elements to make a connected whole. It is different from summarizing, comparing, or reviewing. College students of various fields of study often receive synthesis essays either as solitary assignments or as part of larger projects.
Now that you know what to synthesize is, you want to know what a synthesis essay is. A synthesis essay is often referred to as a written discussion of ideas. It involves gathering information from several sources then synthesizing it to corroborate with a thesis or question. A thesis is the central claim of your paper. You can come up with the thesis by identifying the purpose of the essay but more on that later.
Many people identify two main types of synthesis essays, but this article will discuss three. They are:
You begin an argumentative synthesis essay from a strong thesis, stating a particular position on the topic of the paper. There are several possible reasons for writing an argumentative essay. They include:
The purpose will determine the approach taken to write the essay. It also determines how the information will be presented.
Once you have selected a side, stick to it. You may provide counterarguments, but they should be minimal and weaker than your main arguments. Try summarizing your ideas before writing so that you do not include too much information in the papers. Your readers want to read a synthesized project, not the actual work. By presenting the facts directly, you risk having the reader misinterpret it.
An explanatory synthesis paper is meant to help a student become an expert in a particular area. The writer obtains information from various sources. They then synthesize this information in an objective and comprehensive way. They can explore the available information and organize it into common themes. This analysis of the different viewpoints helps students and readers develop a deeper understanding of the topic.
This essay is commonly written by students of social sciences and medicine as part of larger projects. They comb through previous literature on a particular topic and outline the common themes. This analysis should help you define which issues have been well researched and which ones haven't. It will reveal aspects of an examined problem and will generally help to justify specific research.
Below is a list showing the verbs the author can use in the different types of synthesis essays:
Argumentative: affirms, confirms, disagrees, concedes, insists, rejects.
Explanatory: finds, verifies, states, suggests, reveals, claims.
Literature Review: advises, mentions, proposes, holds, predicts, speculates.
The tone used in the explanatory and literature review synthesis papers is almost similar, and some verbs are interchangeable, depending on the context.
When selecting a subject for your essay, one way is to choose an emotionally charged issue. Don't settle on a topic which previous papers and researchers have already concluded on. The topic should still be debatable.
Good topics include:
Bad topics include:
The format of the paper may vary depending on the type, but there are three main sections in every synthesis essay:
A good essay writer needs to follow the synthesis essay format and ensure that they present their ideas in a way the reader can easily follow. This section highlights how to start the essay and elaborates on the different sections.
To begin your essay, gather all the necessary resources, whether they are documents, books, movies, or articles, and go through them. As you do, make summaries and take down notes of essential sections for citation purposes. Take those summaries and make judgments about them. Literally synthesize the information. Determine the relationships between topics such as:
Next, create an outline of the essay. Some writers recommend a 5-6 paragraph long outline. The first paragraph summarizes the introduction and formulates the thesis. Use three or four sections to note down your points or arguments. The last paragraph summarizes the conclusion. An outline will help you see your argument at a glance, and you will be able to see the flow of your thoughts in the essay.
Finally, make a first draft of the essay. Your introduction should be a summary of the general ideas in the piece. Start with a catchy opening line. It could be a quote that is not famous, but that contains useful insight. It could also be an anecdote or an interesting statistic. Your first line should hook the readers. Next, explain the topic briefly and the purpose of writing the synthesis essay.
As was mentioned earlier, the thesis is the claim your synthesis paper is making. If your purpose is to argue against students wearing uniforms, your thesis should portray this. Some essays will not have a thesis, for example, literature reviews. Other essays will have a clearly stated thesis in the instructions. Others will require you to go through the resources and come up with your own unique take on things. Make your thesis thought-provoking to make your readers curious.
The body presents your original ideas. It will contain a summarized version of the sources you were perusing. If it is an argumentative essay, it will present the arguments and counterarguments. As a rule of thumb, have each paragraph introducing its own theme. Don't put too much information into each paragraph. You get the themes by grouping together similar facts and features from the sources. If your synthesis essay has a thesis, try to address it using a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.
Your ideas should flow, building on one another to assert the claim you made. Try not to introduce too many contradicting points against your thesis. You can add some, but they shouldn't be strong points. Even then raise counterarguments against them.
Use statements that show the relationships between different topics. Your paper doesn't just represent the information but takes it apart, revealing the bare-bones argument. Build a case for your thesis. If it's a literature review or an explanatory essay, analyze what the research and data have to say about it.
It summarizes what you were talking about in the body. It should list the major themes covered in the essay. It should clarify on any important facts worth remembering. In conclusion, the author has room to interpret the facts and issues in the paper. They can also direct the readers on where they can go for further research if necessary.
Finally, a good essay writer has to give credit where it is due. You have to make sure that you have a reference list acknowledging all the sources you used. You may be tempted only to cite direct quotes, but the correct thing is to mention the ideas you use as well. Some colleges and universities prefer their students to use MLA in text citation. Others require APA format citation. Whichever your school calls for, do it so that you do not plagiarize other people's work.
Some writers come up with the title after they have concluded the essay. They choose one that fits the thesis and what is discussed in the paper. Because this is a draft, you have to go through it and make any necessary edits. Proofread it and make sure that the ideas are flowing naturally from point to point. You can choose to present your ideas in any of the structures that shall be highlighted below.
The synthesis essay structure refers to how the author presents the essay's ideas to the reader. In this guide, six structures shall be highlighted.
Here are ten tips to follow when writing a synthesis essay. Some of them have already been highlighted in the text but are worth repeating.
You want to use sources with valuable information. The data must be valid and not have been proved wrong elsewhere. Don't be afraid to do extensive research. Read widely, then synthesize the information.
You will get a basic idea of how to organize your thoughts by coming up with a synthesis essay outline. You will also know if you have enough points in your essay or if you need more. With an overview of the themes, you can organize them into whatever structure you feel is best.
You need to hook your reader from the first line. Use any of the methods listed above to come up with an opening line that makes the reader want to read more. Make your thesis compelling too, and if you can tap into their emotions, even better.
You want to use the third person in writing the essay. Speak/write with authority. 'I think that social media is a key contributor to students becoming antisocial' shows that you are not sure. 'Research reveals that more and more students are spending their time on social media rather than interacting with their peers' is more authoritative.
The goal of the essay is to convey the relationship between ideas and convince your readers of a particular conclusion. You do this by using precise vocabulary that creates vivid mental pictures. It also means avoiding wordiness. Avoid purple prose. Use as few words as possible to convey your message without sacrificing clarity.
Sentences should neither be too long nor too short. Start your paragraph with a clear topic sentence. Elaborate on the theme at hand, then conclude. Avoid having sections that are too long as they discourage the reader. Simple sentences are better than complex sentences with multiple parts.
Each sentence and paragraph should effortlessly lead to the next. When writing an essay in climactic order, some possible transition words include, more importantly, still and even more, etc. In an essay written in chronological order, words like first, and then, afterward, and many more are good transition words for moving to new themes or points.
You may have an excellently written synthesis essay, but it won't matter much if you haven't proofread your work. Unfortunately, people are not as patient as we would like them to be and may not want to look for your points hidden beneath grammatical errors and poorly written sentences. Sometimes it helps to read out the essay to see if it reads well. As a rule of thumb, some writers recommend setting it aside for a few hours or days after writing it before editing. This may not be possible if you are writing it at the last minute, but if you have time, follow this advice. The time will help you approach your work with more clarity.
There is a reason people copyright their work. Plagiarism is generally frowned upon, and in some cases, it may be a criminal offense. To be safe, cite all your sources. Some resources can make this easier for you. There are phone applications that will scan the barcode of textbooks and generate a citation. There are websites in which a few minor details will yield a well-written citation. If all else fails, the built-in citation tool in some writing software like Microsoft Word will come in handy.
Some people know the title when they are starting out, but others come up with it after writing the essay. Whatever your preference, make sure that just like your introduction, your title is compelling. It should inspire your reader's curiosity.
A synthesis essay is an in-depth analysis of various sources compiled into one document. The author asserts a claim then selects and combines information from multiple sources to prove it. Learning to write synthesis essays is a great skill that prepares you to deal with the current information overload. It teaches you to go through the available sources and then come to a logical conclusion. This skill is particularly useful in fields going through critical changes and upheavals of old ideas. If new ideas are being presented often, you will need to learn how to analyze them, interpret them, and come to a viable conclusion.
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Monday, May 18, 2020