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What Is a Synthesis Essay?

By Karize Uy
Updated May 23, 2024
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A synthesis essay is a kind of essay wherein a subject matter is investigated by acquiring different information from different sources. These bits of information and facts are then “synthesized,” or combined together, but it does not mean that the essay only contains a summary of all the gathered information. The synthesized ideas are used to create or support a new idea produced by the writer himself. Educators usually use this essay to test a student’s ability to research and understand new knowledge and eventually create a new idea of his own.

As with all written texts, a synthesis essay revolves around a certain topic, usually a very specific subject, in which the writer expresses his view in a “thesis statement.” This statement is usually composed of only one sentence that encapsulates the very gist of the subject matter. The subsequent sentences and paragraphs would then support the thesis statement. During the research process, the writer may rethink his thesis statement, which he can change if he wants to.

A writer should also gather and use credible and substantial sources to validate the thesis statement. Especially for an academic essay, sources such as books, newspapers, journals, and other academic research papers are preferred. Internet sources are also accepted, as well as direct, spoken quotations from influential people and recordings of seminars and speeches. To ensure that all pieces of information are recent and reliable, the writer must choose sources no older than ten years.

A synthesis essay, aside from having a sound thesis statement and credible sources, should also have proper organization to be effective. All the information should be written in a way that readers sense a connection among all the paragraphs. A writer can prepare a rough outline to arrange all his points before actually putting them into writing. For example, the essay’s first point can be the most important, progressing towards the least important point, or vice versa.

After presenting all the data and information relevant to the subject, a synthesis essay should be concluded with the writer’s own interpretation of the data. This will eventually result in the creation of a new perception, and ultimately a new thought, regarding the topic. Often, the concluding paragraph will also reiterate the thesis statement. In this way, a synthesis essay will not only hone the writer’s skills in research and thought-formation, but will also help a reader learn about a topic with great understanding.

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Discussion Comments
By Mammmood — On Jan 10, 2012

@nony - It’s interesting that you mention the Internet. The Internet has given us access to all sorts of media sources that can be used for our research.

That has made accurate citation challenging to say the least. You can now cite videos, multimedia presentations, lectures, just about anything. I try to stay with conventional sources as much as possible.

By SkyWhisperer — On Jan 10, 2012

@nony - Sometimes the thesis statement is the most challenging part of the essay. That’s because you’ve got a mountain of information to sift through, and you want to condense it all into one succinct thesis statement.

One thing that I do is to review all source information over and over again, and then see what emerges as the common thread from the pile of data.

That way your thesis statement accurately reflects all of the information that you have in your research and you won’t leave anything out. The thesis statement won’t be too broad and it won’t be too specific.

By nony — On Jan 09, 2012

@hamje32 - Yeah, I only have a bachelor’s too. I actually think you can write a synthesis essay apart from thesis dissertations. Just write a research paper and put a new spin on it, like you said.

I’ve never done that but I would warn you of one thing. If you cite sources from the Internet, use reliable sources, like from Google Scholar or EbscoHost. Don’t just cite regular web pages as your source material.

Use newspapers and magazines online and try to use academic journals too. I especially don’t recommend that you buy any of the college essay help services online, unless you want to be accused of plagiarism.

By hamje32 — On Jan 08, 2012

The synthesis essay is basically a college essay like a thesis dissertation. I say this because the thesis is not your typical research paper where you’re just summarizing data and presenting it to the reader.

Rather, with the thesis you are introducing something new, something “novel” as professors like to call it, a new way of looking at the information. The thesis is therefore more challenging in that regard and that’s why you need to write a thesis paper for your Master’s or your PhD.

For a Bachelor’s (like I have) you can get by without it. Coming up with something new is always challenging, but in the end it’s all just academic. It’s not like you actually have to build something to prove your point.

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