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5.3: Make Connections When Synthesizing in Your Writing

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    The previous section introduces you to the idea of synthesis as conversation, and you are given a definition of synthesis throughout this text, but how do you indicate synthesis in your writing? When you synthesize, you are responding to the voices and ideas of others, so you should be as flexible in your written response to them as you would be in a verbal response to those you were having a discussion with about a complex topic. Primarily, your synthesis will indicate agreement or disagreement with your sources, but it may also recognize patterns of thinking, errors in logic, or the omission of important points—whatever it is you are adding to the conversation.

    Synthesis that adds to the conversation in other ways:

    • While most of the experts on topic X see overfishing as the primary cause of species depletion, only Source D acknowledges that there may be other, environmental causes.
    • When I began writing about topic X, I expected to learn reason Y. To my surprise, none of the sources address this reason, which leads me to believe that . . .
    • Because Source A is the expert in the field of topic X, most others writing about X accede to A’s authority, but a closer examination of A reveals an important omission about X.

    Other Examples of Sentence Structures that Demonstrate Synthesis

    Synthesis that indicates agreement/support:

    • Source A asserts that… Source B agrees when he or she states…
    • According to both A & B…
    • The combined conclusions of sources B & C seem to indicate that…
    • The evidence shows that…
    • Source B is correct that…
    • Source C makes a convincing case when she argues…
    • I agree with Source A’s conclusion that…

    Synthesis that indicates disagreement/conflict:

    • Source A asserts that…Yet Source B offers a different perspective by…
    • Source C & B would likely disagree regarding…
    • My view, however, contrary to what Source A has argued, is…
    • I argue that X & Y are the best solution, though Source B offers a different option.
    • In contrast, I would like to offer some objections to the opinions expressed by source C…
    • While source A makes an intriguing argument, I would disagree…

    What the above examples indicate is that synthesis is the careful weaving in of outside opinions in order to show your reader the many ideas and arguments on your topic and further assert your own. Notice, too, that the above examples are also signal phrases: language that introduces outside source material to be either quoted or paraphrased. See section 11.4 for more information on signal phrases.

    Remember that you are working with multiple sources, so it is important to remember the following:

    Consider your audience: they are intelligent readers, most likely belong to academic environment; however, they are not familiar with all your source-materials, so they rely upon your presentation to get the meaning of the information you have retrieved from your research. Make it clear to your audience what information is taken from which of your sources.

    “5.3 Make Connections When Synthesizing in Your Writing” licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 / A derivative from the original work by Svetlana Zhuravlova, Yvonne Bruce, and Melanie Gagich

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