How do you synthesize?
Synthesis is a common skill we practice all the time when we converse with others on topics we have different levels of knowledge and feeling about. When you argue with your friends or classmates about a controversial topic like abortion or affirmative action or gun control, your overall understanding of the topic grows as you incorporate their ideas, experiences, and points of view into a broader appreciation of the complexities involved. In professional and academic writing, synthesizing requires you to seek out this kind of multi-leveled understanding through reading, research, and discussion. Though, in academic writing, this is another kind of discussion: you set the goal for the discussion, organize the discussion among the authors of your found researched materials, orchestrate the progress of the discussion, provide comments, and build logical guidance for your audience (readers of your Synthesis Essay), and finally you draw your conclusion on the topic.
Step 1: Determine the goal(s) for your discussion such as reviewing a topic or supporting an argument
For example: How to motivate people to make healthier food choices?
Step 2: Organize the discussion among the authors of your found researched materials:
All authors agree that junk food is damaging to people’s health. For example, Authors Doctor X and Doctor Z and Nurse-dietitian Y publish results of their researches to show that eating junk food causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses that drastically shorten lifespan.
Step 3: Continue to lead the discussion among the authors of your sources
Alerted by the appalling data about the damages inflicted by junk food consumption, researchers from the University of … conducted a survey. The majority of the respondents (XX%) admit that they are aware of the risks of relying on unhealthy food. However, XX% respond that this food is cheaper and so affordable. XX% also argue that this kind of food is convenient: easy to cook (“just heat and eat”), while XX% say their school-age children give preference to this kind of food compared to home-made choices. In response, Doctor X suggests…
- Step 4: Provide comments and build logical guidance for your audience:
Analysis of processed food ingredients and its production technologies provided by Doctor Nutritionist N in his article “… … … “will make the survey respondents challenge and reconsider their priorities in food choices…”
- Step 5: Summarize the most vivid of the authors’ examples and explanations (like here: link the illustrations to the above survey data you mentioned earlier):
To continue in the discussion: Pediatrician M and Children Psychologist K, in their article “… … … …” explain to parents their children’s preferences in food choices … In addition to this, Source N gives examples of activities organized by … in … (now, you summarize some of those examples and comment on them).
- Step 6: Finally, draw your unique conclusion on the topic: in fact, the answer to your research question:
Over-all, Educational as well as behavior promoting activities in a family, at school, at work-place, and in a community will not only teach people to make healthier, daily food choices, but also give them clearer vision of the long term outcomes and benefits of such choices – benefits that will both improve their health and lower their monetary expenses.
“Appendix B: Additional Synthesis Examples,” by Svetlana Zhuralova, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0