All You Need to Know to Write a Synthesis Essay



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All You Need to Know to Write a Synthesis Essay

Student life is pretty diverse. You receive a lot of different assignments every day. Some of them are challenging; they nurture you as a decent specialist. However, one day they may become just a routine. When you hear about your professor's new task, you think “How am I supposed to handle this?” We are sure that these were thoughts you had when you were assigned to write a synthesis essay.

Not so many students know what that means. We receive many “write my essay” requests when customers just don’t understand their task. It is easy when it goes about the argumentative or a reflection paper. But synthesis?

Don’t panic; we are here to have your back! We’re going to tell you everything you need about writing a synthesis essay. If you still have questions, just contact us, and we’ll be eager to help you.

Synthesis Essay: What Is It?

So let's start with a synthesis definition.

You may have already heard the word synthesis in biology or chemistry lessons. It is the process of combining different elements into something whole. In literary terms, "something whole" is your essay, and "different elements" are information. You gather data from different sources and combine them as one content. In other words, you synthesize.

This does not mean that you simply copy information from different websites. Your task is to highlight the essence of each of them. For example, you might have an article that examines the impact of video games on teens, and another one examines the use of gadgets by the younger generation. You can use a combined thesis like "gadgets and video games don’t destroy teenagers” in your synthesis paper.

Main Types of the Synthesis Essay

We can distinguish the two types of synthesis paper, each of which has its characteristics.

Explanatory Type

Writing an explanatory synthesis, you help your audience understand the topic better. You don’t need to prove something, express your own opinion, analyze. Your task is to clarify specific issues. It is very important to be consistent and objective. When using any statements, make sure you have two or more reliable sources that support them.

Your professor may assign you this task to help you to become an expert in a particular field. When you’re studying some topics from different sides, reading many articles, and compiling a whole document, you just haven’t another choice.

Argumentative Type

This time, you need not only to present a theme but to prove a particular point of view. State your opinion, make supporting statements, and then provide credible evidence and examples to support your thesis. You will also need to analyze the second point of view to understand its weaknesses and use them to your advantage.

The argumentative synthesis paper is critical to developing your analytical and critical skills. You should be able to provide arguments for each point of view. It doesn’t matter what position you support, because you can argue and provide evidence for each of them.

If you don’t know which of these types to use, read the prompts carefully, or ask your professor.

What Are Your Goals?

A synthesis paper's purpose depends on the type of essay you were assigned, your educational level, and the topic.

There are five primary purposes you should consider planning the writing process:

  1. Demonstrating your understanding of the key topic;
  2. Illustrating your understanding of the secondary issues of the subject;
  3. Proving your skills (critical reading, evaluation, analytical thinking, etc.);
  4. Showing your ability to develop and defend the argument;
  5. Development of your writing skills, the ability to work with different assignments.

The first thing you need is to be attentive to your professor's words. You will most likely receive clear guidelines for your essay. They will include purposes as well. If you want to meet someone’s expectations, it is essential to understand them on the up and up. So, don’t start writing until you know exactly what your professor wants from you. If it is not clear, ask for an appointment or discuss this issue with fellow students.

How Long Should Your Synthesis Essay Be?

There is no universal answer to this question because each professor has one’s requirements. But we can provide you with a general idea.

If it goes about the standard high school essay, your text will contain just 500 words. 100 words for the introduction, the same amount for the conclusion, and 300 words for 3 body paragraphs.

However, 500 words are not enough when you’re a college or a university student. Some fields require more detailed analysis, and it is impossible to reveal the issue in 3 100-words arguments. In this case, you’ll be assigned with a 700-words or even a 1000-words essay. Of course, you’ll have more time to come up with a piece.

Can I Go Under or Beyond the Volume Limits I have?

Of course, you can write 650 or 715 words if the established volume is 700. You have 10% on both sides. It is not so easy to follow the strict requirements sometimes. However, it is important to make sure that you use the space appropriately.

Try to develop your body paragraphs so that they are clear, consistent, and informative. If you have a lot of words to go, add more detailed examples and evidence. And if you need to reduce the amount of text, get rid of all useless words and weak ideas. If you can delete the word and the sentence doesn’t lose its sense, just do it.

Writing a Synthesis Essay 

The first thing you need to prepare is an outline. Some students neglect this part, but it may be a crucial mistake.

When you buy furniture, you need assembly instructions. You won’t travel without a map. Thus, if you’re going to write any student essay you need an outline.

It is something like a plan with all paragraphs you will include in the text. It doesn’t contain titles only; you should write down sub-sections, key arguments, articles, ideas. Any information you need to come up with a final draft.

Writing an outline, you should make sure you have enough data for each section: some hooks for introduction, statements, or arguments for the main part, and the next steps for the conclusion. All these chapters have different purposes, but they are valuable, so pay attention to them.

Attractive Introduction

Consider the introduction as the most important part of the synthesis essay. If you fail with it, your audience just won’t read your document.

This paragraph should be brief and engaging at the same time. You should find something to attract the audience to make it fall in love with the essay. Below you’ll find four main steps to reach this goal. Read some examples to see how other students or professional authors start their papers. You can get inspired, but don’t copy their techniques to provide original content.

Introduce the Main Issue

The main goal of the introduction is to introduce the theme you’re going to write about. Your readers should know what you are writing about. You’ve done the research, found some information, analyzed it, but your readers are about to understand it from scratch.

You may write why you have chosen this particular issue, why it is important for you personally or the society in general, which aspects you will reveal.

It is also the part where you can use the hook. Start with a rhetorical question to encourage readers to think about the answer. You can also introduce the shocking stats or interesting facts. Try to be creative. It will be a great idea to add some humor if it is appropriate.

Specify the Sources You’ve Used

Show the audience what you base your synthesis essay on. If you’ve studied several books on this theme, mention their titles and authors. You should also write about their essential ideas. The same for articles, research papers, reviews, etc.

It is also essential to let your readers know that you are well aware of the opposite perspective. Provide these sources as well.

If some of the literature you’ve used is controversial and you know it, you may explain why you have chosen them. Maybe your goal was to analyze as many articles as possible and to find what all of them have in common. Or you wanted to find the source of this inconsistency.

In other words, you should show your audience that you’re not writing from your head. Pay attention to the fact that it is not enough just to mention the source. Explain your choice, and show its importance for the research.

Provide a Thesis Statement

It is the foundation of each article. If it is not your first written assignment, you already know what a thesis statement is.

Honestly, all students find it a bit difficult because you need to fit your essay's whole point into just one sentence. All your next paragraphs are necessary to prove or refute this phrase.

There are several strategies to come up with a thesis statement. You can start with this sentence if you already have an understanding of what you should write about. Or finish the whole paper first, and then try to find a phrase that will reflect the general sense.

Once you’ve finished with the introduction, you can go to the next section, the body paragraphs.

Powerful Main Body Paragraphs

This section is your paper as it is. It will take you the longest since you need to work through all paragraphs carefully. Don’t expect the first draft to be perfect, you may rewrite it several times until the result will satisfy you.

Share the Main Idea

The main body consists of 3-5 paragraphs. Each of them has its main idea, but they all obey the thesis statement that you provided in the introduction.

You need to develop a sub-thesis for each of the paragraphs to explain to the reader what the next lines are about. Try to formulate the idea in literally one sentence to make the most of the available volume.

Provide Evidence

Your next task is to explain or prove each of the ideas. This is where the resources you studied before writing the paper come in handy.

Use quotes to support your words. Make sure you cite them correctly according to the particular format style. It is vital to avoid plagiarism.

The main body is the place where you should synthesize different ideas. Provide information from the various sources, and show the similarities they have.

Analyze All the Aspects

So, you’ve provided evidence, and now you need to show how exactly it proves your thesis statement. Did the authors of sources fully disclose the issue? Which ideas are perfect, and which ones are frankly weak? Remember that you’re synthesizing different sources, so you can explain how authors interact with each other, trying to contribute to the research.

You can also provide your own opinion and ideas. How do you think it is possible to change the situation? Or you think that it doesn’t require any changes? It would be perfect if you find some evidence to support your words.

Read your body paragraphs several times to make sure they are clear, logical, and consistent. They shouldn’t be watery or senseless. You can even read it aloud because it will help you understand how other people perceive your essay. Or ask the friend to read it and provide you with feedback.

Brief and Inspiring Conclusion

Of course, the conclusion is an essential part of your synthesis paper as well. It should leave your audience with a particular aftertaste. Imagine how they read your essay and think “So what?”. It is time to answer this question.

Think about your original goal. Was it to explain some critical issues? To convince people? To inspire them? Depending on the purpose you pursue, you can write a synthesis conclusion for your piece. There are three steps to follow:

Rephrase Your Thesis Statement

Get back to your introduction and remind the audience what the key point of your essay was. It is a good prompt for you because now you can analyze whether you have succeeded in explaining or supporting the statement.

Remember the Evidence

You’ve covered a lot of ground with your sources to find the best ones and highlight their key ideas. Your last paragraph is the platform to remind them. Don’t be verbose though, do it briefly. If the reader needs more details, one can go back to the main paragraph and read it.

Call to Action

If you’re not going to inspire your readers, you may skip this step. However, it can make your text stronger. You may provide some ideas on what they can do to contribute. For example, if you’re writing about environmental issues, you can call readers to organize protests, to do research, to join local eco-communities, etc.

Hook Your Readers With Brilliant Essay Topics

It is not so easy to come up with efficient explanatory or argumentative essay topics. You may think that you know a lot of them, but it seems like all thoughts have disappeared into your head when it comes to writing.

That’s why we have prepared some good options you may choose from. Maybe you’ll find inspiration to come up with the own one:

About Education:

  • Should high education be free for all students without exception?
  • Why does a degree in arts matter the same as a degree in sciences?
  • Do homeschool children perform better?
  • Is sex education a crucial discipline?

About Environment:

  • Why should students have a volunteering experience?
  • Does the use of fossils affect global warming?
  • Who or what is the real cause of climate change?

About Society:

  • Do modern TV shows have a diversity issue?
  • Can people be successfully married without co-living experience?
  • Is it justifiable to say that kids are getting more violent because of video games?
  • How social media affects the whole society?

About Global Issues:

  • Is it possible to justify the war in any way?
  • Can we call the native marketing immoral?
  • Why shouldn't we prohibit abortion?
  • How should we consider euthanasia: murder or an act of mercy?
  • Why do people become criminals?

Actionable Tips to Come Up a Synthesis Essay

Now you have everything to write a paper. However, it doesn’t guarantee you the result. Read some tricks below to make the whole process easier. If you still need support, just let us know. The best authors with synthesis essay writing experience are ready to provide you with a decent text written from scratch.

Organize Your Time

It is the biggest challenge for most students. Modern people have a lot of opportunities, but they have numerous distractions as well.

You should plan your time if you don’t want to find yourself in the situation when the deadline is tomorrow, and you haven’t written a single line.

We know that it is tough to start, but once you type the first sentence, the whole process goes easier. Divide all your articles into several pieces and set your deadlines for each of them. Try to stay on schedule even if you have additional projects or some personal issues. It is very important to be disciplined since it makes you stronger.

Choose a Good Topic

Many students prefer complex, engaging topics that they have no idea about. You may like this approach because it allows you to broaden your horizons and explore new topics. It's a commendable pursuit, but not when your student paper determines your academic performance.

The correct strategy is to choose a field that you are familiar with. We are sure that once you delve deeper, you will still learn a lot. But having a particular background, you can separate the wheat from the chaff and come up with worthy arguments.

However, if you want to make your piece more interesting, think of controversial topics. Organize a brainstorming session and write down all ideas that come into your mind. Don’t stop with the first 5 or 10. The longer you think, the better your insights are. Work through the best of them to understand whether you have enough information to provide.

Rely on Proven Sources

You simply can’t write a good essay without credible sources. And it is one of the most significant contemporary issues in academic society. Students think that Facebook or Reddit are the right platforms to draw on for your article. But they are not.

Students should know how to work with academic websites, journals, books, criticism, research papers. There are also specific closed databases, and your institution can provide you with access. Ask your professor which websites one can recommend.

Don’t forget to make sure all of the articles you use are reliable because there are many fakes these days. If you provide some facts, e.g. statistics in your text, find at least two references to support them. Get rid of any untrustworthy information since it compromises the paper.

Correct Citations

There are several reasons why you should take care of the correct citation.

Firstly, it is important for your audience. Reading the piece, it should understand when you share your ideas and when you just cite the books.

Secondly, it affects your performance. It is important to meet academic standards and the instructions if you want to get a high grade. It doesn’t matter whether you agree to use the MLA or APA style, you should cite quotes as your professor expects.

The third reason actually may be the most important one. It goes about plagiarism. The inappropriate quotation can be perceived as borrowing someone else's content, even if you did not pursue such goals.

Finally, traditional education suggests particular requirements. You should follow some rules if you’re in this system. If you find this task too complicated, you can order a paper written from scratch or editing services to make your text flawless.

Proofread the Paper

Once you’ve finished your synthesis essay, don’t rush to deliver it. If you allocated your time correctly, you still have several days before the deadline.

Proofreading is an essential part of the writing process because it helps you to polish the paper. You read it several times as a real critic, trying to find the weak places and get rid of them. Don’t forget about the grammar check to make sure the essay is free from stupid errors and typos.

We recommend you to pause the writing and proofreading. It is important to refresh your brain. It may miss some crucial logical mistakes when it is tired.

Synthesis Essay Format

Any academic document you write should be formatted correctly. It goes about the font type, the font size, the margins, the title page, the bibliography, the citation standards, etc.

There are several popular formatting styles common in U.S. institutions. Read your professor’s requirements carefully because you should know the required style.

What Should You Know About the Paper Format?

The format choice mainly depends on the discipline you study. If you’re running into social sciences, you need to get to know the APA format. Math students deal with the MLA, and the future lawyers use the Chicago or Turabian style for their academic pieces.

The requirements you see below are not final. We just want to show you the whole principle. For example, you shouldn’t use the Times New Roman font only, because most formats just need it to be readable. However, this option would be the best choice. You should look for the relevant official guidelines with all information regarding the article formatting. Don’t skip this stage because it affects your academic performance pretty much. If you have some issues, contact a professional editor.

MLA Format

  • Times New Roman;
  • 12 pt.;
  • Double-spacing;
  • 1” margins;
  • Your last name and page number in the top right corner of each page;
  • Centered titles;
  • Your name, your professor’s name, the course number, and the date in the header;
  • “Works Cited” section on the last page.

APA Format

  • Times New Roman;
  • 12 pt.;
  • Double-spacing;
  • 1” margins;
  • The header on the top part of each page;
  • The page number on the top right section;
  • Title page;
  • Abstract;
  • Main body;
  • References.

Chicago Format

  • Times New Roman;
  • 12 pt.;
  • Double-spacing;
  • 1” margins;
  • 1\2” indents for the first line of each paragraph;
  • Left-justified text with a rugged edge;
  • Full names of people or institutions;
  • A separate page for the bibliography.

Wrapping Up

Writing a synthesis paper is an exciting task. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a good writer, you will succeed if you put in some effort.

Before you define opinion on the matter, the first thing you should do is to thoroughly read the sources and understand the subject from all angles. Try to develop a clear and uncompromised position, because it is the only case when you can find powerful arguments to support your perspective. Keep your audience in mind, though since you need to explain your statement or even prove it from scratch. A strong synthesis essay writing isn’t about just summarizing the sources, it is important to analyze them masterfully.

We know that you can handle it, and we want you to know that we are here to have your back.

Originally published May 11, 2017, updated Jan 18, 2021

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