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Writing a Synthesis Essay


What is a synthesis essay?

A synthesis essay draws on two or more sources and combines their ideas into a coherent whole.

What do I need to write one?

Writing a successful synthesis essay will require you to do four things:

  1. read accurately and objectively,

  2. see relations among different viewpoints,

  3. define a thesis based on these relations,

  4. support the thesis effectively.

You will not discuss all the points in every essay; but you should use every essay assigned, and you should use points from each that are appropriate for the thesis of your own essay.

How do I write it?

A synthesis essay may be developed in several ways, including the following:

Thesis supported by examples. Develop a thesis based on common points among the works, and Support the thesis with appropriate examples from each work. This strategy works well with essays that approach a subject from highly diverse viewpoints.

Comparison and contrast. Discuss the similarities and differences in the writers' viewpoints and draw whatever conclusions are possible from your comparison.

Argument. If you have a clearly defined opinion about the subject, support that opinion by incorporating the valid viewpoints of the writers of the essays you have selected, and show the weaknesses of those ideas which you feel are not valid.

What steps should I take in writing this essay?

Consider using the following procedure for writing your essay:

1.  Read carefully. First, skimming through the readings and look for similar issues in each essay. Reflect on those issues, and jot down your ideas. Reread and decide on one topic that will unify your essay. Note each essay's thesis and main points. Finally, take notes.

2.  Next, determine your thesis. A thesis is a direct statement of a main issue or idea that you have developed from studying the essays. If you are writing a comparison/contrast essay, your thesis may explain the main points of agreement and disagreement among the writers you are dealing with. If you are writing a thesis-with-examples essay, your thesis may state the main idea you have developed from your readings, which will be supported with examples from the readings in the body of your essay. If you are writing an argument, your thesis will state your opinion about the subject and will indicate that you will be supporting your views through an analysis of the essays.

3.  Then, organize your essay with your thesis in mind. The type of organization you use depends on your thesis, but in general you should be able to use either block-by-block or point-by-point organization with any of the essay types.

4.  Write a rough draft after you have decided on the organization you will be using. Here are some pointers: Early in your paper, mention the titles and authors of the essays you will be discussing. Quote or paraphrase brief passages from the essays to show how the essays illustrate, agree with, or disagree with each point you make. Whenever you quote or paraphrase, cite the author properly.

5. And finally, REVISE. Remember: All good writing is rewriting.

 

The synthesis essay is one of the most difficult essays to write.  It can be very confusing and the assignment can be hard to understand.   Stop by the Loudoun Campus Writing Center and we will help you out. 

 

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