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How to Write a Synthesis Essay

How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Writing a synthesis essay is one of the most engaging tasks you may face. The purpose of this type of paper, for a college or university student, is to demonstrate that you can deal with extensive research, take apart big concepts, and show the skeleton of the argument.

The perfect paper will take ideas from various sources, summarize them, and combine them into a thesis statement — a single position that the synthesis essay is trying to argue. Identifying the synthesis statement will help you combine it with other theses, helping you to write in cohesive synthesis essay format. If you have ever wondered how to write a synthesis essay, this article from EssayPro’s professional essay writing service will help you compose a synthesis paper outline, or give you a simple structure to guide you through the writing process.


Table of Contents

What Is a Synthesis Essay

Writing a synthesis paper is just like creating any other form of thesis. According to the synthesis essay definition, it is a written discussion of ideas. They tend to draw on two or more sources from academic papers, fiction sources, speeches, interviews, articles, lectures, or observations.

In other words, if you have two ideas from a similar topic, you can isolate the core of what they’re trying to say. For instance, you might have a paper that examines the use of smartphones in the modern world, and another on the rise of teenagers in social media. After synthesizing the information, you may come up with a combined thesis like: smartphones and social media are not destroying a generation.

Two Types of Synthesis

  1. Explanatory Synthesis Essay

This type helps readers get a better understanding of a topic. Instead of arguing a point, the goal here is to explain a particular topic.

In the body, explain the topic using sources and present these sources objectively. Like in any regular writing assignment, back up each supporting claim with two or more credible sources.

  1. Argument Synthesis Essay

The goal of this type of paper is to argue a specific topic and justify it with evidence. Unlike the explanatory type, here you will do the same thing you would do if working on a regular argumentative paper. State your position, make supporting claims, and then provide credible evidence to back up each claim.

How to Choose a Topic

A synthesis paper prompt must be debatable. Depending on your assignment, you may have to choose a primary text. Choose a book that might have opposing viewpoints.

Step 1: Browse through topics and ideas. Read from sources and check selected topics in-depth to see if any of them take your interest.

Step 2: Choose a topic, then gather relevant and useful sources to include in your synthesis paper.

Step 3: Apply ideas from the sources onto your synthesis essay outline. Doing so should make writing far easier and save you time.

how-to-choose-synthesis-essay-topic

Tips on choosing a synthesis essay topic

It is important for good synthesis essay topics to be debatable as if they have been in public conversations for decades. This makes them emotionally-charged for all sides involved, and this will likely mean that a lot of evidence for them will be widely available.

Examples include:

  • Income inequality
  • Progressive taxation policy
  • Immigration policy
  • Drug legalization
  • Gun control

Bad topics would be ones in which the debate has long been over, and the scientific community has provided an objective answer for them. Also, bad topics may include those that have a yes or no answer. For instance:

  • The Flat-Earth theory
  • The safety and effectiveness of vaccines
  • Racial supremacy
  • Does gravity exist?
  • Should we trust doctors?

Synthesis Essay Structure

Creating an outline will be useful for structuring your synthesis paper and planning your work. Paste supporting evidence, sub-arguments, and specific points in the appropriate sections. Make sure that every aspect proves the claim of your thesis. Any extra information will only make your paper worse.

If the information goes against your central claim, then you should acknowledge it, as it will make your paper stronger. Make sure you check all of the sources you’ve picked carefully. When writing about the causes, do not summarize them – analyze them. Read further for a sample synthesis essay outline.

The basic synthesis essay outline template contains three major parts:

  1. Introduction with a thesis statement
  2. Body, which contains arguments and counterarguments to the thesis
  3. Conclusion

Introduction

An outline for a synthesis essay starts with an introduction, which is a brief description of what the paper will be about. It will consist of a hook, the background and relevance of your topic, and the thesis statement. How to write a synthesis statement is explained below.

Example:

An article published by Jean Twenge clearly warns readers that the rise in the use of smartphones in the modern world is ruining teenagers. Furthermore, the author makes a sensational claim that the rise in social media and smartphone usage are creating a metaphorical earthquake with a magnitude never previously witnessed in the world. The author then provides pieces of evidence from other studies concerning the issue as well as personal observations — all of which seem to support his claim. According to Twenge, the main hypothesis for claiming that smartphones and social media usage result in destroying a generation is that increased use of these two platforms results in mental depression and other mental issues. This paper will mainly refute the claims of the author by focusing on the issues raised by the work.

Thesis

Synthesis writing always includes a thesis, which is the central argument of the entire paper. Your thesis should be the core argument of separately sourced theses.

Example of a synthesis thesis:

Although technology has brought tremendous changes to society, the use of smartphones and social media are not in any way destroying a generation, especially when looking at the reasons portrayed by Twenge.

Body

The first paragraph must present a counterargument to your thesis. This demonstrates your ability to think from an opposing point of view — which can be greatly valued in higher educational facilities. Be sure to note that the counterargument isn’t strong enough to discredit your thesis.

Example:

One of the main reasons for not supporting the article and observations by the author is the fact that all of the pieces of evidence chosen found by the author are biased. Twenge only uses and reviews studies that inherently support her views.

Your next paragraphs should now present arguments in favor of the thesis. Remember to structure all paragraphs in the body using the following synthesis format:

  • Supporting Argument
    • Topic Sentence
    • Evidence
    • Analysis of Evidence
Example:

At the same time, she ignores other studies which have been conducted to show that screen time does not have major impacts on depression and other mental health related conditions that affect teenagers. In one claim, the researcher used a study that contended that the more teens used social media like Facebook, the more they became depressed. However, she did not dwell on the issue of depression, yet the same research revealed that being depressed as a result of using Facebook did not result in more Facebook usage (Twenge). Such findings remove the blame from Facebook, as it shows clearly that unhappiness and Facebook are not entirely correlated—as portrayed by the Twenge. Moreover, by not using Facebook more often after they have become unhappy suggests that the use of Facebook has not entirely replaced how teenagers could use social media to find alternative happiness or to come out of their depression.

Conclusion

A conclusion should be a summary of the overall paper. Then, conclude the paper with a final sentence. In other words, restate the main points and address any unanswered questions.

Example:

To replace various factors that signified the previous generation, such as teen pregnancy and underage alcohol usage, as some of the indicators of how harmful these devices are to the current generation. All of these issues that have affected the previous generation have also had an impact on the future lives of teenagers, and by reducing them, it definitely signifies a more prosperous generation, based on moAlthough Jean Twenge has certain valid claims on the use of social media and teenagers, there is a lot of bias in her article, which further reduces the credibility of her article. She chooses only to focus on one side of the issue and completely neglects to give any attention to ideas that would oppose her stance, which shows that social media and smartphones could be of great use to teenagers. She also chooses to replace various bad factors that signified the previous generation, such as teen pregnancy and underage alcohol usage as some of the indicators of how harmful these devices are to the current generation. All these issues that affected the previous generation have much impact on the future lives of teenagers, and by reducing them, it definitely signifies a better generation, based on moral and values


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Tips for Writing a Synthesis Essay

A key factor in working on a synthesis paper is doing a proper analysis of a given text or prompt. To successfully analyze it, you must comprehend the text’s purpose, rhetoric, and the argument the author claims. In other words, you are answering the question: “So what?” Then, you must build your application, and write your work around that.

  1. Avoid titling the assignment as ‘synthesis essay’ followed or preceded by a relevant title.
  2. Remember to address your readers appropriately.
  3. Use precise vocabulary. Don’t be shy about using a dictionary.
  4. Use a clear sentence structure. Avoid using passive voice.
  5. Proofread and correct errors: spelling, comma errors, subject-verb agreements, plurals, possessives. And avoid using the word “you.”
  6. Make sure your citations are correct.
  7. Make use of sentence and paragraph transitions.

Writing Techniques

Make use of Summarizing: One of the simplest methods of organization. It allows you to summarize the sources that possess the highest amount of relevance. The issue with this is that this method doesn’t include any of your independent thoughts.

Examples: Paraphrase source material. Write segments of sources in your own words. Quoting sources can also be used under this technique. In every case of using examples, make sure to cite the source.

Multiple Reasons: Using multiple reasons – typically two – is known to be an extremely effective method.

Strawman: Present one argument against your thesis. Though, make sure the argument is not very strong. The advantage of this method is to teach awareness of the other side of the argument. This type of evidence presents an introduction and description. It is followed by the opposing view and a decisive factor.

Concession: This technique illustrates the opposing viewpoint. It shows the positives being much stronger than the negatives.

Compare and Contrast: The compare and contrast method allows writers to examine two sources at once. Comparing shows similarities, as contrasting shows the differences. Illustrating an in-depth analysis of your chosen topic is possible.

Synthesis Essay Format

he synthesis paper format depends on what style is required by your teacher or professor. The most common formats are: MLA, APA, and Chicago style. APA is used in fields of Education, Psychology, and Science; MLA is used for citing Humanities; and Chicago style is used for Business, History, and Fine Arts. Purdue Owl is a format guide you can use that focuses mainly on MLA and APA, and Easybib is a citation multitool you can use for citing any of your external sources.

synthesis-essay-formats

Synthesis essay formats

MLA Format

Some key points are:

  • Times New Roman 12 pt font double-spaced
  • 1” margins
  • Top right corner includes last name and page number on every page
  • Titles are centered
  • The header should include your name, your professor’s name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy)
  • The last page includes a “Works Cited” page

APA Format

Some key points are:

  • Times New Roman 12 pt font double-spaced 1” margins
  • Include a page header on the top of every page
  • Insert page number on the top right
  • The synthesis essay structure should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.

Chicago Style

Some key points are:

  • Times New Roman 12 pt.
  • Use double-spacing amongst the lines of the paper.
  • Use one-inch margins.
  • Use ½ inch indents for paragraph beginnings.
  • Write with left-justified text that has a rugged edge.
  • Use full names of people or organizations.
  • The bibliography is to be on a separate page.

Synthesis Essay Rubric

High range (8-9 points)

  • Effectively develops a position on the assigned topic.
  • Demonstrates full understanding of the sources or text.
  • Correctly synthesizes sources and strengthens a position. The writer drives the argument, not the sources.
  • The writer’s argument is convincing.
  • The writer makes no general assertions and cites specific evidence for each point. His/her evidence is developed and answers the “So what?” question.
  • The paper is clear, well-organized, and coherent. It is a stand-alone piece rather than an exam response.
  • Contains very few grammatical and spelling errors or flaws, if any.

Note: 8-9s are rare. A strong ‘7’ paper can jump to an 8-9 if the writing style is mature and perceptive.

Middle-Range (5-7)

  • Adequately develops a position on the assigned topic.
  • Demonstrates sufficient understanding of the ideas developed in the sources.
  • Sufficiently summarizes the sources and assumes some control of the argument. Those rated ‘5’ are less focused than a ‘6’ or a ‘7’.
  • The writer's argument is sufficient, but less developed.
  • The writer successfully synthesizes the sources and cites them.
  • The writer answers the “So what?” question but may use generalizations or assertions of universal truth. The writer cites their own experience and specific evidence.
  • The paper is clear and well organized —‘ 5’s are less so.
  • Contains few minor errors of grammar or syntax.

Note: A ‘7’ is awarded to papers of college-level writing. A ‘5’ on one of the AP English Language and Composition essays designates a three on the AP exam. It most likely relies on generalizations that have limited control of the claim and argument. ‘5’s often lose focus and digress.

Low-Range (1-4)

  • Inadequately develops a position on the assigned topic.
  • The author misunderstands and simplifies the ideas developed in the sources.
  • Over-summarizes the sources, lets the sources drive the argument.
  • The writer has weak control of organization and syntax. The paper contains numerous grammatical/spelling errors.
  • The writer does not cite the sources correctly, skips a citation, or cites fewer than the required minimum of the sources.

Notes: those papers ranked ‘4’ or ‘3’ do assert an argument but do not sufficiently develop it. A ‘2’ does not develop an argument. A ‘1’ has severe writing errors and does not assert a claim.

Synthesis Essay Example

Have you read the whole article and are still struggling? Check out these great synthesis essay examples — from our professional writers. Feel free to use them as a reference.

Synthesis Essay Example MLA

Synthesis Essay Example: Smartphones and Social Media Are Not Destroying a Generation

An article published by Jean Twenge clearly warns readers that the rise in the use of smartphones in the modern world is ruining teenagers. Furthermore, the author makes a sensational claim that the rise in social media and smartphone usage are creating a metaphorical earthquake, the likes of which have never been previously witnessed in the world. The author provides pieces of evidence from other studies concerning the issue, as well as personal observations—all of which support Twenge’s claim. According to Twenge, the main theory for claiming that smartphone and social media usage result in destroying a generation is that increased use of these two platforms results in mental depression and other mental problems. This paper will mainly refute the claims of the author by focusing on the issues raised by the author’s work.

Sample Synthesis Paper APA Style

Synthesis Essay Example: How Language Can Influence Identity

Society has various aspects that signify the difference in lifestyles and behaviors amongst individuals in a community. Language is one of these essential aspects that help to identify individuals in a society. Identification of a common language will generalize a specific group of
individuals possessing the same culture, even if they are from different races. In this essay, let’s examine how language defines our identity in society. Let’s also look at how two different authors have given different views about how language defines black schoolchildren in the Oakland School District.

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