THE SYNTHESIS ESSAY Mary Ellen Haley Center for
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THE SYNTHESIS ESSAY Mary Ellen Haley Center for Academic Development
What is “synthesis”?
Definition: • “Synthesis” is the combining of separate elements or substances to form a coherent whole.
What is a synthesis essay?
Definition: • Not an analysis • A synthesis essay brings together your own stance with the ideas of other writers, your sources – do you defend or challenge prompt? • Combining separate materials/sources into a single, unified unit – a complex whole formed by combining • It is written in third person (letting the sources speak; not your opinion).
Process of synthesis writing: • Through research, assemble ideas from various sources (books, journals, Internet) • Develop your thesis based on these sources
Step One: 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 (Thesis Statement: Topic and your stance, because Issue (Point) 1, Issue (Point) 2 and Issue (Point) 3. ) Defend – Afghanistan faces troubling issues, because…. Challenge – Afghanistan can overcome the issues it faces, because…….
Step Two: Pre-Write • Using your thesis as a starting point, free-write, • • • 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 You will need at least 3 supporting issues (points) for your essay.
Step Three: Write Introduction • Create a Hook • Give background information about your topic • Identify the topics you will discuss and explain why they are significant/important • Introduce your sources and/or address opposition • Last sentence: Thesis Statement: Topic and your stance, because Issue (Point) 1, Issue (Point) 2 and Issue (Point) 3.
Step Four: Write Body Paragraphs • For each of your supporting issues (points), write a • • • complete sentence; use these as the topic sentences for all of your body paragraphs 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 quotations, facts and opinions to prove each of your key points – don’t forget in-text citation using either taglines or (author). HINT: DO NOT include lengthy summaries of your sources in your essay but very brief summaries that support your thesis directly and clearly
Step 5 - Conclusion • Start by restating the Thesis Statement • Briefly summarize your arguments – the three • • • points you addressed in the body paragraphs Evaluate your sources Make sure that either in the introduction or now in the conclusion you address your opposition. Last Sentence: bring the essay to an end; e. g. answer the question from the Hook or otherwise readdress your hook
Step Six: Revise • Be sure that your thesis covers all the supporting points • Check that each body paragraph begins with a clear • • • topic sentence to focus the main idea Make sure that all of your evidence supports your thesis clearly; edit out any facts, quotes or ideas that do not (or move them to paragraphs where they logically belong) Add quotations, facts or opinions of your sources where you are lacking adequate evidence Be sure that you have introduced the writer of all quotations by putting the name of your source right before the quote [According to Hosseini, ”………” (58). ] or after the quote in parenthesis “………. ” (Hosseini 58).
Step Seven: Edit • Add, delete or move ideas as needed • Proofread for grammar, mechanics, punctuation, word choice or typographical errors
Sample outline for a synthesis essay A synthesis essay should be organized so that others can understand the sources and evaluate your comprehension of them and their presentation of specific data, themes, etc. • The introduction (first paragraph) 1. Hook 2. background information 3. Identify topics and explain their social, political and economical significance 4. Thesis sentence that sums up the focus of your synthesis. • The body paragraphs of a synthesis essay (three): Each paragraph should: 1. Start with a topic sentence; 2. Include information/evidence from more than one source; 3. Indicate the names of your sources; 4. Explanation/Evaluation of evidence . • Conclusion. Write a concluding paragraph that restates your thesis in different words and summarizes themes you have found and the ways they connect to the overall topic. Make sure to evaluate th Adapted from Drew On-line Resources for Writers
Group Exercise Step 1 Read the two Aesop’s Fables: • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged to the sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf in the Sheep's clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals.
Step 1: • The Ant and the Chrysalis An Ant nimbly running about in the sunshine in search of food came across a Chrysalis that was very near its time of change. The Chrysalis moved its tail, and thus attracted the attention of the Ant, who then saw for the first time that it was alive. "Poor, pitiable animal!" cried the Ant disdainfully. "What a sad fate is yours! While I can run hither and thither, at my pleasure, and, if I wish, ascend the tallest tree, you lie imprisoned here in your shell, with power only to move a joint or two of your scaly tail. " The Chrysalis heard all this, but did not try to make any reply. A few days after, when the Ant passed that way again, nothing but the shell remained. Wondering what had become of its contents, he felt himself suddenly shaded and fanned by the gorgeous wings of a beautiful Butterfly. "Behold in me, " said the Butterfly, "your much-pitied friend! Boast now of your powers to run and climb as long as you can get me to listen. " So saying, the Butterfly rose in the air, and, borne along and aloft on the summer breeze, was soon lost to the sight of the Ant forever. From http: //aesopfables. com/cgi/aesop 1. cgi? sel&The. Wolfin. Sheeps. Clothing 2
Step 2: • Write very brief summaries of each fable (be as concise as humanly possible without leaving out any important facts) • Write one sentence to connect your two summaries (this is your synthesis sentence!) • Write a short scratch outline for this synthesis essay