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Center for Academic Development

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Presentation on theme: "Center for Academic Development"— Presentation transcript:

1 Center for Academic Development
THE SYNTHESIS ESSAY Mary Ellen Haley Center for Academic Development

2 What is “synthesis”?

3 Definition: “Synthesis” is the combining of separate elements or substances to form a coherent whole.

4 What is a synthesis essay?

5 Definition: A synthesis essay brings together your own ideas with the ideas of other writers, your sources.

6 Process of synthesis writing:
Through research, assemble ideas from various sources (books, journals, Internet) Develop your own original idea, or thesis, based on these sources

7 Step One: Before Writing
Collect your sources on the topic Familiarize yourself with what others have written about the topic Write a brief summary of each of your sources Examine the evidence that other writers have used to support or to argue against the issue Formulate your own thesis, after reflecting on your research

8 Step Two: Pre-Write Using your thesis as a starting point, freewrite, brainstorm, question or map out ideas on the topic Using the pre-writing material you generate, create a scratch outline Note: It is ALWAYS wise to create a short scratch outline for your essays. However, for synthesis essays, this step is essential if you are to clearly and logically organize your multiple sources

9 Sample scratch outline for a synthesis essay
Thesis: The two memoirs, All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg and The Color of Water by James McBride, share the theme that, with familial support and love, we can overcome obstacles Supporting Point 1: In All Over but the Shoutin’, Rick Bragg’s mother teaches him to persevere in difficult circumstances Supporting Point 2 (with transition): Like Bragg, in The Color of Water, James McBride’s strong mother instills in him the importance of education as a path out of poverty

10 Step Three: Write For each of your supporting points, write a complete sentence; use these as the topic sentences for all of your body paragraphs Using the topic sentences and your scratch outline, write the essay Using the summaries you wrote for each of your sources (see Step One), add these quotations, facts and opinions to prove each of your key points HINT: DO NOT include lengthy summaries of your sources in your essay but very brief summaries that support your thesis directly and clearly

11 Step Four: Revise Be sure that your thesis covers all the supporting points Be sure that you have introduced all of your sources in the introductory paragraph Check that each body paragraph begins with a clear topic sentence to focus the main idea Make sure that all of your evidence supports your thesis clearly; edit out any facts, quotes or ideas that do not (or move them to paragraphs where they logically belong) Add quotations, facts or opinions of your sources where you are lacking adequate evidence Be sure that you have introduced the writer of all quotations by putting the name of the writer in your text, right before the quote (According to Smith,”XXXXX”)

12 Step Five: Edit Add, delete or move ideas as needed
Proofread for grammar, mechanics, punctuation, word choice or typographical errors

13 Sample outline for a synthesis essay
A synthesis essay should be organized so that others can understand the sources and evaluate your comprehension of them and their presentation of specific data, themes, etc. The introduction (first paragraph)     1.    Thesis sentence that sums up the focus of your synthesis.     2.    Also introduces the texts to be synthesized:             (i)  Gives the title of each source (following the citation guidelines of whatever style                     sheet you are using);               (ii)  Provides the name of each author;             (ii)  Sometimes also provides pertinent background information about the authors,                    about the texts to be summarized, or about the general topic from which the                    texts are drawn.  The body of a synthesis essay: Each paragraph should:     1.     Start with a topic sentence;     2.     Include information from more than one source;     3.     Indicate the names of your sources;                .  Conclusion. Write a concluding paragraph that restates your thesis in different words and summarizes themes you have found and the ways they connect to the overall topic.  Adapted from Drew On-line Resources for Writers

14 Works Cited Page Include a Works Cited page at the end
of the essay, essentially a list of your sources See below for an example of a good Works Cited page, using MLA style Daly-MLA-WC.pdf

15 Group Exercise Step 1 Read the two Aesop’s Fables:
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing A Wolf found great difficulty in getting at the sheep owing to the vigilance of the shepherd and his dogs. But one day it found the skin of a sheep that had been flayed and thrown aside, so it put it on over its own pelt and strolled down among the sheep. The Lamb that belonged to the sheep, whose skin the Wolf was wearing, began to follow the Wolf in the Sheep's clothing; so, leading the Lamb a little apart, he soon made a meal off her, and for some time he succeeded in deceiving the sheep, and enjoying hearty meals.

16 Part 1: The Ant and the Chrysalis
An Ant nimbly running about in the sunshine in search of food came across a Chrysalis that was very near its time of change. The Chrysalis moved its tail, and thus attracted the attention of the Ant, who then saw for the first time that it was alive. "Poor, pitiable animal!" cried the Ant disdainfully. "What a sad fate is yours! While I can run hither and thither, at my pleasure, and, if I wish, ascend the tallest tree, you lie imprisoned here in your shell, with power only to move a joint or two of your scaly tail." The Chrysalis heard all this, but did not try to make any reply. A few days after, when the Ant passed that way again, nothing but the shell remained. Wondering what had become of its contents, he felt himself suddenly shaded and fanned by the gorgeous wings of a beautiful Butterfly. "Behold in me," said the Butterfly, "your much-pitied friend! Boast now of your powers to run and climb as long as you can get me to listen." So saying, the Butterfly rose in the air, and, borne along and aloft on the summer breeze, was soon lost to the sight of the Ant forever. From

17 Part 2: In groups- Write very brief summaries of each fable (be as concise as humanly possible without leaving out any important facts) Write one sentence to connect your two summaries (this is your synthesis thesis sentence!) Write a short scratch outline for this synthesis essay (see the sample)

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