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A synthesis essay is a discussion that incorporates support for conflicting views from different sources. A writer examines various sources and pinpoints any connection to the thesis.

A synthesis essay is almost similar to an argumentative essay but quite complex. While argumentative essays are more philosophical, synthesis essays are about a specific issues or topics. Students are asked to evaluate several factors and to consider the consequences of decisions which is a step above the usual defend, challenge, or take/qualify a position in the argumentative essays.

In a synthesis essay, the writer is required to synthesize data from the sources into the argument either by paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting directly from a minimum of three sources. It is important to note that the sources do not make your point. Instead, they provide the writer with the supporting information, viewpoints, and perspective so that he/she can make his/her point.

Before you commence on writing your essay, go through the synthesis prompt and think critically about an issue. An issue can be defined as a conflict which has several possible resolutions; a resolution is a situation that considers different perspectives, attempts, and views to get to a position that reconciles the opposing views. Identify any useful information that could be highlighted on the prompt.

Tips to help you write a good synthesis essay

  • Identify your purpose/task from the prompt to design your argument and to create your thesis (the main idea or claim of your essay).What does the question want you to do? Does it require you to make a claim of value, claim of fact, or claim of policy? Note that some claims build on each other and some essays will have both of them. Nevertheless, identify the claim that the prompt wants you to focus on.
  • Choose your sources and familiarize with them so that you can discuss the points in relationship to your thesis and supporting opinions. People who solely quote references without evaluating them are at a great risk since the sources are prone to control which may lead misinterpretation of information by the audience.
  • Identify your position in the essay. You do not have to pick a position that you believe. Take a position that you effectively argue and support.
  • Formulate a thesis statement. After choosing your position, you will be required to express it in the thesis statement. This statement is quite critical as you will be supporting it throughout your article.
  • Establish an organizational plan. Arrange several sources per point since multiple sources improve the credibility of your synthesis essay. Evaluate how the sources agree or disagree and take the sources that are more credible or have better logic.
  • Write your piece, expressing your ideas, keeping in mind the thesis statement so that you don’t deviate from it and lose direction.
  • Document your sources, note the page number as well as the author and write the source on all the works cited page to ensure you don’t have plagiarized work. This is a mandatory step if you summarize, paraphrase, or quote a source.

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