Academic Writing Complete Guide

Purpose and Audience of this Guide
Why read academic articles?
Essay Writing
Report Writing
Oral Presentations
Finding Sources
Good Academic Scholarship
Understanding Feedback
Exam preparation and Techniques


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Synthesis essays

At times, it would be better to think of a syntheses essay as some kind of argumentative writing. However, there is a difference between the two as your instructor can provide the materials that you are going to use as evidence to substantiate your claims. When writing a synthesis essay, you present a strong position on the topic and show the relationship between your sources.

So what is a synthesis essay?

This piece bases its discussion on some sources. It follows the logic and ability to interrelationships between sources. These sources can be essays, articles, fiction, as well as non-written sources, which include lectures, interviews, and observations. Synthesis is not new to you because you have been able to draw relationships between races of information that you have read in newspapers or something you have witnessed, like the teaching style of different lectures where you have your favorite teacher and least favorite teacher. If you have written research papers, then you have already written syntheses. Academic synthesis call for an explicit relationship that you draw from different sources.

Before you make an effective synthesis, you must understand and know what the sources say. Simply put, you must be able to summarize these sources. You have to provide your audience with partial summaries of the sources that you include in your synthesis essay. You also need to go beyond the summary and infer judgments, which premise of your critical reading of the same sources. You need to know the quality and validity of these sources. You also need to know the extent of your agreement and disagreement with these sources as well as the reasons for these agreements and disagreements.

You also have to transcend analyzing the individual sources and identify how they relate to each other. Since a synthesis essay is based on two or more sources, you have to be careful when selecting the information that you want to get from each of the sources.

The purpose of synthesis

The purpose of the reading source material is to make conclusions and develop your content reflecting on how you have understood the material. For instance, you can evaluate a text, argue a position on a subject, explain the cause and effect relationship or compare, and contrast items. While It is good to use the same sources in an argumentative piece, the issues will be differ based on the different purposes of each assignment. What you may find as worthy in source A many be a mention in the passing ins your classmate’s assignment.

Using your sources

The purpose of your essay determines the sources that you will use as well how you will relate them. Synthesis essays combine ideas, and as such, you must have some basis on which you can combine them some of the relationships in those source materials makes them worthy of synthesizing. If you are able to discover those relationships, it will not be hard to use those sources in your syntheses. The purpose of your assignment will determine how you demonstrate relationships between the source materials. It also determines the parts of the sources that you are going to use in your essay and the points with which they align.


Types of synthesis


There are two types of syntheses, explanatory and argument syntheses.

Explanatory synthesis

This essay enhances the understanding of the audiences with regard to the topic at hand. When you write such an essay, you divide the subject into its component parts and present them to the audience in a manner that is orderly. The explanations can re-create in words, some objects, event, place, or sequence of events and state of affairs. Explanatory synthesis does not take an argumentative stance but presents the facts objectively. They do not go beyond what is obvious after reading the sources.

Argumenta synthesis

These present the writer’s perspective, which is supported by relevant facts that come from sources. The presentation of this argument and its evidence must be logical. Your thesis statement in this essay must elicit debate. In other words, other reasonable people can contest the proposition that you make with regard to the topic. Any two writers working on the material can take opposing sides when it comes to the topic.


The standard for writing your synthesis essay

  • Use your sources to support your arguments, not the other way round.
  • You have to maintain originality and insightful analysis
  • Address your audience appropriately and ensure that your subject is credible. This is achieved with adequate information to make your thesis convincing.
  • Make a logical organization of your paper
    • State a clear thesis
    • Ensure that you have states your major points clearly and connect them to your thesis statement explicitly
    • Divide your paragraphs logically
    • Use appropriate transitions within and outside the paragraphs.
  • Every idea should be developed thoroughly using examples and source materials appropriately. These materials should be integrated smoothly into your writing by use of attribution phrases and transitions. You also have to avoid unnecessary repetition of ideas.
  • If you are not sure of the words you are selecting, you can make use of the dictionary
  • Write clear sentences that are easy to understand. Avoid passive voice and double-check to see if they adequately vary in length and style. Proofread carefully to fix any mistakes in the sentences.
  • Proofread carefully to identify errors in plurals or possessives, subject-verb agreement, shifts in verb tense, spelling errors, punctuation and so on.
  • Check your MLA documentation to ascertain that your parenthetical citations are correct, the work adheres to the guidelines of the MLA style of citation and referencing, and check to see if all sources have been well cited and referenced.
  • Give your essay a very fascinating and attention-grabbing title.
  • The essay should be formatted correctly and handed in to the instructor if it is a class assignment or posted on your website if that is your aim.

Writing the synthesis essay


Consider the purpose of your paper

You have to read the topic carefully to ensure that you understand everything. You need to know what the essay needs to accomplish and the way the purpose if going to shape your approach to the relevant sources.

Select your sources and read them carefully

This should be done in line with the purpose of your essay. Read the source severally and make a mental summary of each. Identify the parts of the source that will be instrumental in fulfilling the purpose of the assignment. While reading, you can underline or label passages form key ideas, key terms and any details that you intend to use in your synthesis.

Write your thesis

This is the main idea of your synthesis, and it should be expressed as a complete sentence that states the topic and your position on it. In most cases, your thesis statement comes as the last sentence in your introduction.

Decide on how to use the materials and take notes

You have to identify ways in which your source material will help you to achieve the purpose of your essay. Read your sources again and jot down information from them that will help you in achieving the purpose.

Develop an outline that reflects your thesis

Determine the organizational structure of your synthesis essay. You do not have to prepare a formal outline, but you must have a mental picture that shows how your essay will be structured, the outline helps in arranbg9ng your material in a manner that resents your arguments logically. It should also help you in indicating how you are going o show the relationships between your sources.

Write your first draft

Now that you have an outline use it to develop a rough draft of your synthesis essay. You have to be flexible with your outline since it can change any tie depending on how you progress within the essay. You have to give room for new ideas that you discover during the writing process. As you incorporate new ideas, you have to re-read your work to ensure it supports your thesis statement in a logical manner.

Works Cited

You have to document every source that you have used in your essay. You can use the MLA in-text citation style and make entries of all the works that you have used in the works cited page. Any material that you have summarized, paraphrased, or quoted must be well cited and referenced.

Revise your work

It is important that you go through your work to check for any inconsistency. You also have to ensure that the transition words have been used appropriately. Integrate every quotation so that they can flow smoothly into your sentences. To show the distinction between your sources’ ideas and your ideas, use attribution. Make sure that the essay is smooth, logical, clear, and succinct from the onset. You also need to check the essay for any grammatical error, spelling mistake, or wring punctuations. Once you have done that you can now prepare your final draft and submit it.


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