How to Write a Synthesis Essay

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The main purpose of a synthesis essay is to make insightful connections. Those connections can show the relationship(s) between parts of a work or even between two or more works. It is your job to explain why those relationships are important. In order to write a successful synthesis essay, you must gather research on your chosen topic, discover meaningful connections throughout your research, and develop a unique and interesting argument or perspective.

A synthesis is not a summary. A synthesis is an opportunity to create new knowledge out of

already existing knowledge, i.e., other sources. You combine, “synthesize,” the information in your sources to develop an argument or a unique perspective on a topic. Your thesis statement becomes a one-sentence claim that presents your perspective and identifies the new knowledge that you will create.

Before writing your synthesis

1. Narrow a broad or general topic to a specific topic:

In a short essay, completely covering a large topic is impossible, so picking a specific, focused topic is important. For example, the broad topic of global warming would need to be narrowed down to something more specific, like the effects of automobile exhaust on an ecosystem.

2. Develop a working thesis statement:

A working thesis statement should include a rough idea of your topic and the important point you want to make about that topic. Writing this statement at the top of a rough draft or outline and looking at it often can help you remain focused throughout the essay. However, the thesis statement that you begin with is not set in stone. If you find that your essay shifts topic slightly, you can change your thesis in later drafts so that it matches your new focus.

3. Decide how you will use your sources:

After completing your research and gathering sources, you may have a large or overwhelming

amount of information. However, the purpose of a synthesis essay is to use only the most important parts of your research, the information that will best support your claim. At this point, you must decide which sources, and/or which parts of those sources, you will use.

4. Organize your research:

Now, decide the order in which you will present your evidence, the various arguments you will employ, and how you will convince your readers.

Writing your synthesis

In the following synthesis essay the author found various sources on the same topic and used certain parts of those sources to support the thesis statement.

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