Students encounter many different assignments, with varying levels of complexity and length. One of the most challenging papers you may ever have to write is the synthesis essay. When working on this type of assignment, you will be expected to contrast and compare two or more sources and offer a balanced analysis. Don’t worry if you find this type of assignment challenging. With the tips outlined here, you will be able to complete an outstanding paper on time.
What Is a Synthesis Essay?
Before we dive into an analysis of how you can write your paper lets go over some important definitions. In essence, a synthesis essay implies a written discussion where the author analyzes different sources. This type of work is often issued to assess the student’s ability to locate, dwell on and explain connections between sources. As a student, the main point to keep in mind is that to synthesize means to collect and form into a new whole. The different sources are the parts, each with its distinct view or views on a specific topic. The whole is your essay, where you state and support your position, considering views from both sides of the issue.
The synthesis paper bears a lot of similarity with the argumentative essay, although it is more nuanced. You will be expected to employ a specific type of thinking that departs from the argumentative essay. Although the argument essay can sometimes be relatively philosophical, the synthesis paper targets a particular topic. For instance, you may be asked to evaluate factors and consider the implications of that very issue. This is a step further from defending, qualifying, or challenging a position as required by the argumentative essay. In the synthesis paper, you are required to integrate the information from the different sources into your argument, either through paraphrasing, summarizing, or using direct quotes. Just keep in mind that the sources will not make your point for you. They only offer supporting perspectives, information, and viewpoints allowing to clarify your position. You will also need to draw conclusions on the quality and validity of the sources.
How to Start a Synthesis Essay Fast
Any writer will tell you that one of the most challenging tasks is getting your paper started. You may find yourself wasting valuable time thinking about how to write that first sentence. Well, if you plan sufficiently, this initial step shouldn’t be so hard.
A good tip from professional writers is to start writing a synthesis essay by organizing it is stages. The first phase is the prewriting where you prepare all the materials needed. Start out by reading and understanding the prompt. The prompt is your guide and should inform the entire work. You will be surprised by the sheer number of students who fail their assignments as a result of failing to follow instructions. As yourself the following questions:
- What is the desired word count?
- What is the essay question?
- Do the instructions specify particular sources?
- Is there a determined topic?
Understanding these elements will prepare you for the actual writing process. Consider the various factors to be evaluated before you arrive at an ideal position. Please note that, in this type of assignment, even if the evaluations or factors are not explicitly mentioned, your instructor will still expect you to consider them as you discuss the issue. Once you have read and understood the prompt, it is time to form a tentative position on the issue. This will be the basis of your thesis statement.
The next important step is actually to read the sources. Whether you have specific assigned sources or have chosen them on your own, you must first understand what the authors say on the issue. This may sound obvious, but many students start writing their syntheses without even reading the text. To save on time, you may need to scan quickly through sources to pick the ones that are most useful for your purposes. Just make sure that you completely understand the arguments made in the selected sources so that you do not misrepresent any source. Take clear notes as you read as these will help you during the outlining phase.
Important Tips on How to Write a Good Synthesis Essay
All the preparation in the world will not be of much help if you do not begin the actual writing as soon as possible. A good idea is to approach the assignment in the same way you would a critical literature review by organizing your notes into an outline, and giving details as you continue with the research. Please note that the way you introduce your paper will influence whether the audience actually reads the rest of it. Indicate your objective at the beginning of the piece, presenting a well-articulated and thoughtful argument.
Also, make sure that you include an arguable thesis statement. This is the central claim that you make regarding the sources. In most cases, the thesis is inserted towards the end of the introduction.
Although you could use freewriting to get the paper started, it is often a good idea to use your plan to organize the paper. When writing the initial draft, don’t worry too much about typos and grammar mistakes. You will have time to edit the work much later. At this point, your focus should be on making the content flow. Document your sources as you write.
Synthesis Essay Outline
As previously indicated, it is always a good idea to write from a plan. When writing a synthesis paper, the outline is your way of organizing your thoughts and main points. It is the roadmap of how the writer intends to approach the process. In your plan, include main ideas and sub-ideas, which you can then build on as you draft the paper.
Ideal Synthesis Essay Structure
Notwithstanding the type of paper, there is always a structure to give coherence and enhance flow. For a synthesis essay, most instructors recommend including a tripartite format, including a catchy introduction, a detailed body, and a concise conclusion.
Writing a Catchy Synthesis Essay Introduction
A good introduction is your chance to make a strong first impression. Connect with your readers by starting with a catchy hook, before presenting some background information to prepare the path for a clear and arguable thesis statement. Avoid the temptation to perform part of the discussion in the introductory paragraph. There will be space for that.
Synthesis Essay Body
The body of your paper is your chance to present your points, carefully showcasing the different views from the sources to make your case. The general rule is to have one idea for each paragraph, with the other sentences supporting the idea and providing a transition to the next idea. Make sure to accurately cite sources within the text.
Synthesis Essay Conclusion
The final part is where you wrap things up neatly. Use the conclusion to emphasize the thesis, and show how your main points tie to the central claim. Avoid introducing new information.
Additional Synthesis Essay Tips
The synthesis essay is more than just a summary of sources. Rather, it is a paper where you articulate points and assess how different sources contribute towards supporting or refuting them. Go further and analyze the material. Use the plan you created in the prewriting phase. Most importantly, like with other forms of academic papers, make sure to reference your sources.
To complete an outstanding paper, avoid merely summarizing the sources. Instead, make sure to make your point, supporting it with evidence from the material. Analyze the material.
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