Planning Your Synthesis

Synthesis Plan – Step-by-Step

* Definition of Synthesisthe combination of ideas to form a new idea or claim; the new idea must result from study and consideration of these selected texts.  

* Step By Step – To Begin

  1. Choose your texts according to the guidelines on the assignment sheet.
  2. Read the first selection thoroughly, underline the thesis statement, the claim, lay out the main points in your notes or in the margins, i.e., analyze the first text thoroughly.
  3. Now you are ready to choose the second and third text. They can be complementary or they can have contradictory, competing, or different arguments/claims on the same issue.
  1. After you decide on the second & third reading, read/view and study it thoroughly, noting the claim, i.e., thesis statement.
  2. Use this model for mapping out your synthesis and developing your thesis claim.

Step 1: Read through both artifacts/texts. Take notes. Underline/find thesis. Notice connections. How do these texts seem to be in conversation with each other? What overall topics/points/themes are explored in each?

Step 2: Make a synopsis of what the artifacts/texts say as well as your response to that.

Source 1 Says… Source 2 Says… I Say….
Title & Page Numbers

of Source 1:


















Title & Page Numbers

of Source 2:


Now: Step 3: Develop a working claim or thesis from these notes.

In the synthesis essay, the thesis statement must ‘make a claim or assertion’ directly related to your critical examination of the two texts. (See the examples of strong thesis statements below.)

  1. When you have a strong working thesis statement, you will be ready to rough out your essay.

* Strong Thesis Statement Examples:

This writer has made the choice that both articles are strong and provide equally important perspectives on ‘the representations of women in advertising’. The claim or assertion is that by reading both, the reader can come to a new, complex understanding.

While Kilbourne speaks of the objectification of women in advertising causing sexual violence, Bratu speaks more on behalf of women’s moods and reactions about the advertisements and their representations of identity. By critically examining Kilbourne’s piece and Bratu’s piece, readers will develop a new, complex understanding of the cultural myth of gender.”

This writer has made a clear choice that while one article contains an intriguing argument, the second article is stronger, with specifics on each.

While Flanagan makes an intriguing argument that the rise of economic inequality is due to a lack of hard work and will to succeed, Noah presents a stronger argument and uses more factual evidence to suggest we take a much deeper look into the flaws both individually and structurally with our species to determine the great divergence on inequality and why this is an unfixable problem. 

* Aspects of A Strong Synthesis Essay: 

These specific aspects were formulated by the circle of DWR teachers as standardized guidelines for a strong synthesis essay. Consider these in relation to your own essay as you use the guidelines above to lay out your essay or to revise your drafts. In my final reading of your essay, I will be looking for these aspects in your composition.

Guidelines for a Higher Product

(Stronger Writing – therefore – A Higher Grade )

  1. You have entered the conversation of your issue. You, the writer, are engaged with the discussion of the two articles.

Academic writing is ‘They Say, I Say’. A strong coherent voice must be present. There is a distinct ‘I Say’, your voice, with original thought, rather than just general conversation.

  1. Depth of thought.
  2. Depth of discussion of the two articles/texts.
  3. Critical examination of the two texts.
  4. Make the texts talk to each other, the blending, a clear discussion between the two texts. (not relying mostly on one – templates will help here)
  5. Strong incorporation of evidence to back up what you say. (Be careful to include all in-text citations here. See A Writer’s Reference )
  6. Strong organization of all of the above.

* Strengthening Your Academic Voice:

Most of you are still in the (maturing) process of strengthening your academic voice. There are a number of ways to do that.

  1. By reading academic writing – all the readings we have been reading and all the readings you are studying for other classes – you will begin to ‘hear and incorporate’ academic voice into your own writing.
  1. Verbs –

As part of your revising process, take a marker and highlight all your verbs. Notice how you can use some of the strong verbs to strengthen your own academic voice. Ex.: Instead of, ‘The author talks about the effects’, you can write, ‘The author argues that …., The author illustrates the need for….’

Some examples of strong verbs with more on Blackboard:

implies, trivializes, qualifies, formulates, demonstrates, proposes, asserts, processes, suggests, denigrates, dismisses, questions, compares, vilifies, praises, supports, enumerates, contrasts, emphasizes, demonizes, establishes, admonishes, expounds, argues, defines, ridicules, minimizes, narrates, lists, warns, offers, validates, probes, etc. 

  1. The templates for academic writing: See handout from They Say I Say.
  1. The Writing Center – After you have revised your Synthesis Essay, go for a consultation. You should make your appointment now if you have not done that already.