There are two basic ways of dealing with information: analysis and synthesis, known since the days of the Ancient Greeks. Analysis is a method by which a person is able to “break down” a problem to its “parts” and to examine them afterwards. This is the analytical approach, or the strategy to check every single detail one by one.
Synthesis consists of bringing different parts, entities, or groups together in one whole. Real synthesis is difficult to be performed as it requires lots of knowledge. The main goal of every synthesis is to gain new information based on something already known.
How to write a synthesis essay – essential tips
Not as easy as you think
In the case of your synthesis essay, you will have to write on a well-defined topic by using a few important sources. That means, you will be given the task to work with the sources in order to incorporate the information, which is available in them, in your writing. At the beginning you will think it is a piece of cake to write such an essay. However, having read all sources, you will feel confused and unable to accomplish the task. But this is the essence of every synthesis: to derive the most useful information and to formulate your own theory, conception, or idea. For instance, you must work on the problem with the human rights in the country X. There are six excerpts from articles in newspapers dealing with this issue. From them you must use at least three (if not all six). The idea is to exercise your skills of deriving important information and basing your thesis on it.
There are some tips for writing a synthesis essay which you should follow.
1. You should comprehend perfectly your topic and task. If needed, ask your teacher. If you cannot ask anyone, then rely on the texts. The topic must be narrow and clear. Usually the assignment is accompanied by additional explanation of the context.
2. Write some notes on each text. Try to present them with up to five short sentences (but only in your draft). These notes will contain useful information which can be found precisely on the first text, or the second text, and so forth (and not in each of them). Now you are able to incorporate them at different places in your paper.
3. Plan your work according to your own thesis. You can choose one of the sources as fully corresponding to your standpoint. You can also select a text containing the opposite opinion. If it is not possible, you can merely present at least two sources as essential parts of your text. Remember: you should integrate these ideas, and not to describe them. The synthesis essay is not a summary, but it is rather a new point of view justified by opinions manifested by other authors (that you must refer to as your primary sources).
4. This essay has the same structure as every other essay – intro, body part, and conclusion; additionally, you should add a list of references and to insert references everywhere you quote a given source. The only significant difference from the most popular types of essay is that here you must write according to your sources.
From all said up to here, it becomes clear that your synthesis essay requires creativity as well as the other types of essay do. So, don’t adhere too much to your sources- it may transform your paper into a boring attempt of summarization. Present your own thoughts on a topic while referring to various sources, and your synthesis will be successful.