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Essay writing is about collecting necessary information, writing a first draft, and then refining it into a piece of well-crafted writing. Whether you are writing a narrative essay or an argumentative one, this part of the process, or its output, remains the same. However, when you are writing a synthesis essay, this is the part and parcel of the purpose.
The process of gathering knowledge from different sources and then putting it together to “synthesize” new ideas or finding new dimensions in an already existing set of knowledge becomes a synthesis essay.
Students often find it hard to write a synthesis essay due to the lack of tools and training. With that in mind, we have shared this comprehensive guide on how to write a perfect one.
What Are Synthesis Essays?
Where narrative essays go through a story that the narrator might have gone through and an argumentative essay supports one side of the argument through different argument-building techniques and evidence, synthesis essays are different in their scope and approach.
A synthesis essay, as the name indicates, collects information and data from credible sources on a subject and comes with something new and original. There are synthesis essays that explain already existing ideas and thoughts, but most of them discover a new dimension or set a new angle for the readers.
As mentioned in the previous sections, all types of essays share different traits and characteristics, and synthesis essays are no exception to that rule. For starters, the structure of a synthesis essay is often based on a five-paragraph format, with one each for the introduction and conclusion and three for the body.
Another important thing to note about synthesis essays is that the essay topics or questions could be subjective but the techniques and methods to explain, prove, and synthesize ideas should be empirical and subjective.
Purpose of Writing Explanatory Synthesis Essays
If the name is any indication, explanatory synthesis essays are written to explain a certain point of view to the readers. Again, writers rely on an objective approach with reliance on empirical, scientific evidence to create a clear picture for the readers. However, writers should not side with any side of the question but only explain the ideas or the subjects under consideration. For instance, if they are explaining similarities and differences between two units, they should not side with one as something better than the other.
It is important to keep the purpose of writing an explanatory synthesis essay in mind because the purpose of writing a specific essay is what drives the writers in the right direction. So, whether you are a student or a novice writer in college, you should keep the purpose of writing an essay in mind before even getting started!
Differences Between Argumentative & Explanatory Synthesis Essays
Before we delve into the differences between argumentative and explanatory essays, let us go through the similarities that the two types of essays draw – formatting. This is another important aspect of writing an essay that many students forget when they need to write an essay. The formatting of an essay is about the structure, both on macro and micro levels. So, the formatting of both of these essays remains the same.
Explanatory essays employ different sources to collect information and then explain a specific point or idea. There is no support from the writer to consider one side of the question over the other. Argumentative synthesis essays are not much different from typical argumentative essays. They follow the same construction and focal points as that of the explanatory synthesis essays, but they argue for a single point or question around the topic.
Major Sections In A Synthesis Essay Structure
Now that we have identified different types of synthesis essays, it is time to go through the major sections of a typical synthesis essay. If students are dreading the idea of learning a new type of essay, especially when it is about collecting new information and devising new ideas, they should not! The process is almost the same as any other essay, including the formatting and structure.
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Introduction in any essay is about laying the foundation for your ideas that will come eventually in the body. The purpose of the introduction is about laying the groundwork and hooking the readers in with interesting takes on the background and different dimensions of the subject. Writers also need to let the readers know about the main point or argument through a thesis statement. It is a bold and brief sentence that explains the writer’s stance to the readers so that they know what to expect in the succeeding lines. The best place to put down a thesis statement in a synthesis essay is in the closing lines of the introductory paragraph.
The main body of your synthesis essay is no different from any other type. When it comes to the word count or length of the essay, it takes around three paragraphs out of five. The availability of space does not mean that writers can have the freedom to write whatever they want. The contents of this section are the interplay of all the elements that make an essay. These include the explanation and defense of the thesis statement through different points and arguments and their evidence. Students should also anticipate counterpoints and provide answers to those in the main body.
The conclusion of a synthesis essay is one of its most important sections. Many students do not pay much heed to this because it comes at the end of all the hooks and arguments. Yet, it can make all the difference between a good and a great essay. A conclusion has not much to it as it needs to do three things. First, it needs to revisit the thesis statement to circle the sections. Second, it should summarize all the main points of the body paragraphs for the readers. Third, the closing lines of the conclusion should put down departing thoughts that are memorable and in line with the topic of the essay.
The bibliography is a list of all the sources that are cited in the essay structure. Whether you are writing an explanatory synthesis essay or an argumentative one, you need to dedicate the end of your essay to citing all the sources used in writing the essay. The bibliographies are not the same for different writing styles. For instance, if you have written your essay through MLA or Chicago Manual Style, you need to follow the instructions of the same style to craft a bibliography. After covering the bibliography, your essay will be done.
Writing A Synthesis Paper
Writing a synthesis paper requires a lot of research and outlining. To save time and help students to streamline their process of writing a synthesis paper, we will cover these two aspects here. Even if you are an expert in a discipline or a subject, you need to do extensive research to collect all the necessary information. After that, or along with the research, you should map out the whole essay so that the writing phase becomes easier and more predictable. Once these two steps are out of the way, it is time to get on with the writing process.
Opening Paragraph With Synthesis Essay Thesis
The opening paragraph of a synthesis essay hints at the subject of interest for the readers. It also sheds ample light on the context before explaining the stance of the writer with a thesis statement. This is the most important section of the essay so all of its elements should be well-crafted.
Body Paragraphs With Main Ideas/ Arguments
This is the meat and bones of the essay, in terms of the contents and the word count. Whatever is laid out in the beginning, the main body builds on it through different academic techniques and ensures that every end is justified. Also, counterpoints should be acknowledged and answered.
Synthesis of The Source Material
In the body of the synthesis essay, writers need to acknowledge the source material and leverage it to create something new. This is the part and parcel of an argumentative synthesis essay. As for the explanatory synthesis essay, writers need to explain the subject using pertinent sources and the ideas showcased in them.
The concluding paragraph ties all the loose ends and sums up the main points succinctly and appealingly. Again, there is no need to rush because you can lose much value of the section if you decide to just wing it. This is what readers will read in the end and probably remember the most about the essay.
Synthesis essay writing is about gathering information from credible sources about a topic or a subject and then adding value to the discourse by inventing or discovering something new. There are two major types of synthesis essays, explanatory and argumentative. The structure of both remains the same with some differences in the scope and focal points. We have also shed ample light on the major sections of synthesis essays so that writers can identify and improve on the craft.
We hope that students will find the resource useful in getting better at the craft of writing a synthesis essay.