How to Write a Synthesis What is a synthesis? • Combining the ideas from more than one source with your own. • Reporting information from difference sources using reformulation. • Organising the different sources ideas in a structured way. • Analysing the sources and help the reader understand them in greater depth. The first steps • Begin by summarizing briefly the points, themes, or traits that the texts have in common. • Explore different ways to organize the information depending on what you find or what you want to demonstrate. How to write your Synthesis
Your synthesis should be organized so that readers can understand the sources and evaluate your comprehension of them and your presentation of specific data, themes, ideas and opinions. The structure of your synthesis A. The introduction: Present the theme(s) of the articles and show how the subject(s) relate to your main topic. Present the sources and authors, the publications and dates, and characterize the value of the sources. (Write a one-sentence statement that sums up the focus, the main topic of your synthesis). Introduce the texts to be synthesized • Give the title of each source Provide the name of each author for each source • Provide
In her article, “Some students are more equal than others”, published in the Guardian Unlimited, on 16 January 2003, Polly Curtis treats the theme of student inequality in English universities”. To characterise the sources of this article, we could say that: “Polly Curtis is a reporter for the Guardian, an authoritative British publication which takes a centre-left position on issues. ” To comment on the relation of this article to the general topic, you might say something like This article addresses the heart of the topic since it attempts to understand and evaluate the current situation of university access in the UK.
How to state the general idea addressed in the different sources? Example The Polly Curtis article addresses, in particular, the question of “unequal access to education for non-traditional students and the outcomes of policies implemented to address this problem”. The question is whether the positive discrimination policies implemented by UK universities are resolving issues of student inequality or creating more inequality. B. The main body of your synthesis
The organisation you choose for your synthesis will be determined by the assignment or by the patterns you see in the material you are synthesizing (theme, point, similarity, or aspect of the topic). The organization is the most important part of a synthesis, so choose the most effective format for your topic. Make sure that each paragraph • Begins with a sentence or phrase that informs readers of the main idea of the paragraph • Includes information from more than one source • Clearly indicates which material comes from which source using transitions and topic sentences, and in-text citations
You must also • Beware of plagiarism: make sure you indicate where the synthesis ends and your own comments begin by using inverted commas when quoting the original texts • Show the similarities or differences between the different sources in ways that make the paper as informative as possible • Represent the texts fairly- You should simply repeat what the source says in fewer words and in your own words. The fact that you are using your own words does not mean that you are in anyway changing what the source says Be careful:
If you are synthesizing several articles into a single report, avoid the shopping list effect (this person said this and that person said that…). Make sure instead that your essay puts the different sources into a dialogue; compares them, outlines the similarities, the differences, the contradictions. The information given by the articles should be synthesized and reformulated. Conclusion: When you have finished your paper, write a conclusion reminding readers of the most significant themes you have found and the ways they connect to the overall topic.
You may also want to suggest further research or comment on aspects that were not possible for you to discuss in the paper. You may also want to give your opinion. Proofreading: When writing any kind of paper always allow time to check that you used: • Correct spelling and punctuation • Appropriate grammar: the right verb tenses and agreement, correct prepositions and articles, adjectives in their proper place, etc. • Relevant linking words and correct syntax • More formal language than you use when you speak (avoid basic words such as « thing, good, bad, nice… ) • A wide range of synonyms and pronouns to avoid repetition • etc.