INTRODUCTION TO SYNTHESES
(mostly from Cassie Carter - with her kind permission)
- What is a synthesis?
Two types of syntheses
Standards for synthesis essays
How to write synthesis essays
Techniques for developing synthesis essays
Thesis statements, introductions, conclusions, and quotations
WHAT IS A SYNTHESIS?
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, or between the teaching styles of your favorite and least favorite instructors. In fact, if you've written research papers, you've already written syntheses. In an academic synthesis, you make explicit the relationships that you have inferred among separate sources.
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? Would it be useful to compare and contrast source C with source B? Having read and considered sources A, B, and C, can you infer something else - D (not a source, but your own idea)?
Because a synthesis is based on two or more sources, you will need to be selective when choosing information from each. It would be neither possible nor desirable, for instance, to discuss in a ten-page paper on the battle of Wounded Knee every point that the authors of two books make about their subject. What you as a writer must do is select the ideas and information from each source that best allow you to achieve your purpose.
Your purpose in reading source materials and then in drawing upon them to write your own material is often reflected in the wording of an assignment. For example, your assignment may ask that you evaluate a text, argue a position on a topic, explain cause and effect relationships, or compare and contrast items. While you might use the same sources in writing an argumentative essay as your classmate uses in writing a comparison/contrast essay, you will make different uses of those sources based on the different purposes of the assignments. What you find worthy of detailed analysis in Source A may be mentioned only in passing by your classmate.
USING YOUR SOURCES
Your purpose determines not only what parts of your sources you will use but also how you will relate them to one another. Since the very essence of synthesis is the combining of information and ideas, you must have some basis on which to combine them. Some relationships among the material in you sources must make them worth sythesizing. It follows that the better able you are to discover such relationships, the better able you will be to use your sources in writing syntheses. Your purpose in writing (based on your assignment) will determine how you relate your source materials to one another. Your purpose in writing determines which sources you use, which parts of them you use, at which points in your essay you use them, and in what manner you relate them to one another.
TWO TYPES OF SYNTHESES
THE 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.
STANDARDS FOR SYNTHESIS ESSAYS
2. Keep in mind that original thought and insightful analysis are required for a 4.0, 3.5, or 3.0 paper; 2.5 and below evaluations tend not to present original ideas.
3. A 4.0, 3.5, or 3.0 paper will create a "dialogue" between the essay author's ideas and her sources, and also among the sources themselves. 2.5 and below evaluations will often summarize one point at a time, with the essay author's idea stated at the end. If you imagine a synthesis essay as a room in which the synthesis writer is joined by the authors of her/his sources, the 4.0, 3.5, or 3.0 essay has everyone engaged in conversation or debate, with everyone commenting on (or arguing against) each other's ideas directly. In the 2.5 and below essay, each person in the room stands up in turn, gives a speech, and sits down, with little or no question and answer period in between or afterward.
4. Take special care to address your audience in an appropriate manner. Make sure you establish your credibility on the subject and that you provide sufficient information to make your argument (thesis) convincing.
- 5. Organize your paper logically:
- A. State your thesis clearly and make sure that it reflects the focus of your essay.
- B. Make sure your main points are clearly stated (use topic sentences), and connect each point to your thesis as explicitly as possible.
- C. Divide paragraphs logically.
- D. Provide appropriate transitions both within and between paragraphs.
7. Select words precisely. When in doubt, use a dictionary!
8. Make sure sentences are clear and unambiguous. Avoid passive voice. Double-check to see that sentences are adequately varied in length and style, and that there are no fragments or run-ons. Also proofread carefully to correct any other sentence errors.
9. Proofread carefully to identify and correct mechanical errors, such as errors in plurals or possessives, subject-verb agreement, shifts in verb tense or person ("you"), comma errors, spelling errors, and so on.
10. Quadruple check your MLA documentation. Are your parenthetical citations correct? Is your Works Cited list correct according to MLA style, and does it include all sources cited in your essay?
11. Be sure to give your essay a descriptive and attention-getting title (NOT "Synthesis," for goodness sake!!!).
12. Make sure your essay is formatted correctly and posted to your web site correctly.
HOW TO WRITE SYNTHESIS ESSAYS
- Consider your purpose in writing. Read the topic assignment carefully. What are you trying to accomplish in your essay? How will this purpose shape the way you approach your sources?
- Select and carefully read your sources, according to your purpose. Re-read the sources, mentally summarizing each. Identify those aspects or parts of your sources that will help you in fulfilling your purpose. When rereading, label or underline the passages for main ideas, key terms, and any details you want to use in the synthesis.
- Formulate a thesis. Your thesis is the main idea that you want to present in your synthesis. It must be expressed as a complete sentence and include a statement of the topic and your assertion about that topic. Sometimes the thesis is the first sentence, but more often it is the final sentence of the first paragraph.
- Decide how you will use your source material and take notes. How will the information and the ideas in your sources help you to fulfill your purpose? Re-read your sources and write down the information from your sources that will best develop and support your thesis.
- Develop and organizational plan, according to your thesis. (See Techniques for Developing Synthesis Essays immediately below.) How will you arrange your material? It is not necessary to prepare a formal outline, but you should have some plan in mind that will indicate the order in which you will present your material and that will indicate the relationships among your sources.
- Write the first draft of your synthesis, following your organizational plan. Be flexible with your plan, however, and allow yourself room to incorporate new ideas you discover as you write. As you discover and incorporate new ideas, re-read your work frequently to ensure that your thesis still accounts for what follows and that what follows still logically supports your thesis.
- Document your sources. Use MLA-style in-text citations and a Works Cited list to credit your sources for all material you quote, paraphrase, or summarize. For example, if I wanted to note in my essay the difference between name-calling and argumentum ad hominem as personal forms of attack, I would credit the article on "Politics: The Art of Bamboozling" fromWARAC by offering a citation that includes the author's last name and the exact page number where she discussed this notion (Cross 302). At the end of the essay, I would have a complete bibliographic citation for the "Politics" article.
- Revise your synthesis. Insert transitional words and phrases where necessary. Integrate all quotations so they flow smoothly within your own sentences. Use attribution phrases to distinguish between your sources' ideas and your own ideas. Make sure the essay reads smoothly, logically, and clearly from beginning to end. Check for grammatical correctness, punctuation, and spelling.
TECHNIQUES FOR DEVELOPING SYNTHESIS ESSAYS
Summary can be useful - and sophisticated - if handled judiciously, selectively, and in combination with other techniques. At some time you may need to summarize a crucial source in some detail. At another point, you may wish to summarize a key section or paragraph of a source in a single sentence. Try to anticipate what your reader needs to know at any given point of your paper in order to comprehend or appreciate fully the point you are making.
EXAMPLE OR ILLUSTRATION: At one or more points in your paper, you may wish to refer to a particularly illuminating example or illustration from your source material. You might paraphrase this example (i.e., recount it, in some detail, in your own words), summarize it, or quote it directly from your source. In all these cases, of course, you would properly credit your source.
TWO (OR MORE) REASONS: The "two reasons" approach can be an extremely effective method of development. You simply state your thesis, then offer reasons why the statement is true, supported by evidence from your sources. You can advance as many reasons for the truth of your thesis as needed; but save the most important reason(s) for last, because the end of the paper is what will remain most clearly in the reader's mind.
STRAWMAN: When you use the strawman technique, you present an argument against your thesis, but immediately afterward you show that this argument is weak or flawed. The advantage of this technique is that you demonstrate your awareness of the other side of the argument and show that you are prepared to answer it. The strawman argument first presents an introduction and thesis, then the main opposing argument, a refutation of the opposing argument, and finally a positive argument.
CONCESSION: Like the strawman, the concession technique presents the opposing viewpoint, but it does not proceed to demolish the opposition. Instead, it concedes that the opposition has a valid point but that, even so, the positive argument is the stronger one. This method is particularly valuable when you know your reader holds the opposing view.
COMPARISON AND CONTRAST: Comparison and contrast techniques enable you to examine two subjects (or sources) in terms of one another. When you compare, you consider similarities. When you contrast, you consider differences. By comparing and contrasting, you perform a multifaceted analysis that often suggests subtleties that otherwise might not have come to your attention.
To organize a comparison/contrast analysis, you must carefully read sources in order to discover significant criteria for analysis. A criterion is a specific point to which both of your authors refer and about which they may agree or disagree. The best criteria are those that allow you not only to account for obvious similarities and differences between sources but also to plumb deeper, to more subtle and significant similarities and differences. There are two basic formulas for comparison/contrast analysis:
|I. Introduce essay, state thesis||I. Introduce essay, state thesis|
|II. Summarize passage A||II. Introduce Criterion 1|
|A. View on Criterion I||A. Passage A's viewpoint|
|B. View on Criterion 2||B. Passage B's viewpoint|
|III. Summarize passage B||III. Introduce Criterion 2|
|A. View on Criterion 1||A. Passage A's viewpoint|
|B. View on Criterion 2||B. Passage B's viewpoint|
|IV. Discussion and conclusion||IV. Discussion and conclusion|
Whether you are a student in high school or college, there is a 100% chance that you will have to write some sort of informative essay during your educational years. Your teacher may either assign you a topic or allow you to choose one for yourself. Depending on the length and requirements for the paper, your topic options will narrow down. A lot of the times, students will end up receiving a subject that they are completely clueless about and thus have really no starting point to build off. Do not worry, EssayPro is here to teach our students everything they need to know about crafting an informative essay!
Table Of Contents
What Is An Informative Essay?
Believe it or not, as a student you have written this sort of an essay before! To understand the concept of this paper, you must understand its definition. An informative essay is a piece of writing that aims to educate an audience about a certain topic. This is NOT an essay that is persuasive or argumentative, and the end goal is to make sure that the audience has learned new and interesting information. Generally speaking, this type of essay will compare controversial viewpoints about a certain topic.
This Type of Essay is similar to an Expository Essay
This essay family contains the:
Informative Essay Topics
If the topic is not assigned, you will need to choose your own topic. You might probably stuck on this step if you have a wide range to choose from. Take your time and keep these pieces of advice in mind to select the most appropriate topic.
Make sure that your topic is not too broad and not too narrow. You need to have enough information about your subject to write about, but not so much to make your essay a novel.
The topic should be attractive and interesting to your audience. Think ahead about who might be reading your paper. Of course, if it was assigned for your class, the teacher will be your main audience.
The best option is to choose the topic that interests you. It will make the writing process much more pleasant and will let you express your enthusiasm fully.
Sometimes, teachers and professors will require presentations or speeches to come along with the written essay. This is why it is smart to pick a topic that is interesting enough to a wide audience (something people can relate to) and can be explained clearly through speech. Here are some examples!
- The origin of language.
- The origin of the universe!
- How to maximize financial efficiency!
- Why do people procrastinate?
- What causes addiction?
- Evolution of human rights
- Legalization of Marijuana
- Why do we dream?
- How do 3D-glasses work?
Steps to Take Pre-Writing
Before you sit down in front of your computer screen and start typing away, there are some necessary steps to make and items to prepare before hand. Having a set plan allows you to organize information effectively, and this greatly speeds up the entire essay writing process.
Brainstorm Ideas: Unless specifically given subject instructions by the coordinator, students are usually given freedom in choosing the topic of their essay. Depending on the importance of the class or your enthusiasm towards crafting this work, a topic should be chosen accordingly. You may choose a topic that you are already well-rounded in, however, this will make the process swift and boring. Ambitious students should choose a topic that they have limited knowledge about. Doing this will increase their general knowledge as well as challenge the students in regards to analyzing new information. Regardless of what type of topic you choose, brainstorming ideas and creating a general outline of your essay will help you organize your thoughts, logically allowing you to pick the most suitable topic.
Choosing a Topic: After narrowing down your options, it has finally come time to choose the most appropriate topic. Remember, the Find a happy medium which will allow you to fully answer the informative question. This will prevent you from worrying about the fact that you may need more content or that not everything you wanted to express got down on paper!
Crank Out Some Informative Research: Gather information about your topic. Use various sources including primary and secondary ones! Primary sources are physical pieces of evidence relating to the topic at hand. For example, if you are talking about the Evolution Of Human Rights, a primary source could be a speech written by Martin Luther King Jr! Secondary sources are articles and papers written based on that topic. For example, if the topic is about addiction, a secondary source would be Bruce K. Alexander’s Rat Park Study!
Use a variety of sources, and validate their reliability: Using sites like Wikipedia is generally frowned upon, however checking out the links used at the bottom of every wiki page is an effective way to get sources quickly! Provide different types of sources to make your informative essay well-rounded!
Informative Essay Outline
As a writer, you may be wondering: “If I hire someone to write my essay for me, will they know how to structure my informative essay?” This is definitely a good question to ask and an idea to consider if you have decided upon this path. If the writer presents you with something similar to what is shown here, then you are in good hands!
The informative essay is written in the standard essay style. Usually speaking, it will consist of an Introduction, 3 Body Paragraphs, and a Conclusion. The introduction serves to present the main argument in an exciting and interesting manner. The 3 Bodies will be mainly used to support the thesis created in the intro. The conclusion will wrap up the information and present its significance in the real world!
The intro should start out with a flashy hook statement that grabs the reader's attention. This sentence should be relevant to the topic, so using an informative rhetorical question would be a good example.
Afterward, reveal any background context that will be necessary for the reader to understand while reading through the essay. These sentences should pay the way for an excellent thesis statement.
The last sentence of the introduction should be a well formed and coherent thesis statement. Since this is the sentence that the entire informative essay is based around, make sure that you have constructed it properly. In other words,
The purpose of this section of the essay is to defend the thesis statement, so the content in these paragraphs must be tip-top. Create a smooth transition from your intro by creating a topic sentence that links the thesis to your first main point. (A smooth transition should also be created for the second and third body paragraph!)
With each body paragraph, there must be a target point and a supporting detail. A target point is the part of the thesis that you are aiming to prove. The supporting detail is the outside validation that enriches your statement.
After introducing your topic sentence, it is time to follow the CCE format to craft the most important part of the essay. This is your main argument of the body paragraph. Since the quality of the essay is dependent upon how well the thesis is defended, make sure that your 3 claims are strong.
After defining your claim, you must introduce the evidence. This is your physical proof that validates your claim. Usually, in informative writing, this will be a quote from some sort of Without this, your informative essay will hold no value. It would basically be the same as accepting opinion as fact.
To conclude the CCE process, the writer must present an explanation of his claim. In other words, they need to display how this claim proves their thesis statement as fact. This is absolutely necessary and should be explained coherently. If eager to gain extra validation points, the writer can go into more depth about how the evidence backs up the claim. However, if this can be inferred without the need of extra information, then that would be ideal.
To conclude a body paragraph, a sentence should be created that gives a general synopsis of the argument presented. The main purpose of this sentence is to display assertiveness; in other words, display that your opinion is the right one! This gives your entire essay more strength and makes your argument/thesis look sharp!
After portraying your three main arguments, it is time to wrap up your essay.
The conclusion of an essay restates the thesis statement and offers final thoughts and insights on the topic. Explain it in different words and provide room for a smooth transition.
This “room” is necessary because you will now need to briefly restate the impact of each one of your arguments. If done correctly, the restatement and then the brief argument relay should mix well with each other!
In order to effectively finish the essay, one must come up with an overall concluding statement. This statement should serve as an explanation for the significance of your argument. In other words, explain why the informative writing you just crafted has value and where this information can be applied. This gives the work “real-world” value!
Post-Writing To Do List
Vocabulary: After rereading the draft, make sure that you are satisfied with the language you have used. If the words were not crafty enough or phrases could have been stated in a smoother manner, then edit accordingly.
Grammar: Nothing aggravates teachers more than having to pause their reading to fix grammar mistakes. It shows carelessness and a lack of proper editing. Use websites like GrammarCheck to make sure that there are no issues with punctuation, spelling, etc.
Coherency: From a writer's perspective, this is the most important textbox to have checked. Using language that can be easily understood as well as proper transitional skills is an awesome way to keep your paper moving smoothly.
If you were to imagine your paper as a road, then a coherent paper would be a straightforward and clean path. An incoherent essay would be one with bumps on the road and unexpected sharp turns!
Peer Editing: Having a second pair of eyes to read through your paper is a surefire way of validating your work. If the essay sounds fluent and makes sense to another brain, then you are increasing the odds of it sounding great to the teacher. If your peer has any tips or recommended some amendments, consider their advice! Here at EssayPro, you can speak to a professional essay writer that knows useful tactics that will put a smile on the professor's face!
The final touch: As you have edited your final draft, your next step will be transforming it into a full-fledged essay. Give your final draft one more read-through. Read it aloud and fix small mistakes your eye might not catch.
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
Prof. Essie, from EssayPro
An informative essay is the best way to explain a complicated idea. When you write one of these essays, most of the writing process comes before you write the essay itself. My advice is to spend the most of your writing time on research. (To inform someone on how to do something, you first need to know to do it). The first step to anything, of course, is to choose a topic. Gather all the details on that subject by doing a thorough investigation. List of the important facts and main steps of your paper. Make sure your sources and facts are reliable and accurate. In your outline, write a topic sentence for each fact. After doing all of these steps, you can structure the thesis statement. That's right! Don’t start your essay by writing a thesis statement. Make sure you wholesomely understand your topic before you introduce it. After this organizational process, you can draft your essay and edit it. Good luck!
Read the Article and Still Have Questions?
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