Writing a Synthesis Essay

Table of contents

How to Write a Synthesis Essay to Impress Your Instructor

A synthesis essay takes the points made in two different written works, then merges them into a unified point of view that the synthesis essay is attempting to support. The reason that students are asked to write synthesis essays is to demonstrate that they are able to disassemble big ideas and get to the root of the argument behind them.

If you’ve been assigned a synthesis essay, keep reading. This guide will show you how to write a synthesis essay, articulate your thesis statement, and produce an essay in the required format.

Sample Synthesis Essay on Human Trafficking

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What is a Synthesis Essay?

A synthesis essay is essentially an examination of an idea or theme. These essays use two or more sources that are based on a single idea as sources. These sources might include literature, articles, recorded lectures or transcripts, academic papers, speeches, or observations of events.

Basically, you find works that cover a certain theme. Then, you extract the key point of that. For example:

Imagine that your first source is an essay on the mistreatment of Irish immigrants working in the United States in the 19th Century. Your second source is an investigative article on the exploitation of migrant workers from Mexico and Central America. As you examine these, you create a thesis on the mistreatment and exploitation of immigrants as a means to advance the economic agenda of the United States.

Best synthesis essay topics

  1. The impact of social media on people's relationships
  2. Should voting be mandatory?
  3. Should sugary drinks be forbidden given their negative impact on human health?
  4. Are advertisings a form of art?
  5. Should school teachers represent a greater racial diversity to promote equality?
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Understanding The Explanatory Synthesis

As the name suggests, the purpose here isn’t to convince the reader of anything. Instead, the writer simply uses multiple sources to explain a given subject. The introductory paragraph will present the topic, and present the thesis. The body paragraphs are then written to objectively examine the main points. Each point should be supported by a valid academic source.

Understanding The Argumentative Synthesis Essay

Here, the writer’s goal is to argue a specific point and support that point with relevant and credible evidence. It is treated much like any other argumentative essay. The thesis states the position the writer is taking. The body paragraphs are used to support those claims with evidence from the sources presented.

How to Choose a Synthesis Essay Topic

Your topic should be one that can be debated. Don’t pick a subject where there is general agreement among everyone. If your subject requires, you may be asked to select one work to use as your primary source. Pick something that can be used to frame an argument.

Next, take a look at your potential sources. In many cases, your primary source may be a text that you cover in your class, or you may be asked to select a text that is relevant to your studies. Review these, and create a list of themes that stand out to you. Choose the theme that you would like to write about.

Now, find one or more other works that address that same topic, but in a different way. For example, you could explore the impacts of war on farmers by examining texts that cover the topic from multiple wars throughout history.

Additional Synthesis Essay Topic Tips

Think about topics that are current, controversial, or widely debated.

Be careful that you don’t confuse debatable topics with controversial topics. There are many subjects that are very much agreed upon in academic circles and among researchers. There are also topics that are agreed upon by the civilized majority. However, there are people who hold beliefs in contrast to these. Keep in mind that topics such as the existence of gravity, evolution, flat earth, and whether or not vaccines cause specific illnesses are not good subjects for any essay.

Synthesis Essay Outline

By writing an outline, you will create a synthesis essay structure that will allow you to organize your paper correctly. As you might expect, the structure of your essay will be the standard, Introductory Paragraph-Body Paragraphs-Conclusion pattern that you see in most academic papers. The number of paragraphs total will depend on the details of your assignment.

Synthesis Essay Introduction

Your introduction will be similar to other academic essays. If you have a primary source, you can mention that in the introduction, perhaps as a bit of a hook at the start of the paragraph. For example, you could begin, ‘According to Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities…’ You can also simply intro the topic and state your thesis, then leave the texts you are using as sources for your body paragraphs.

Synthesis Essay Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are where you will dig into each argument you make. You should have a main idea sentence for each argument, and supporting sentences. These should be attributed directly to the texts that you are comparing.

Writing a Synthesis Summary

This is where you bring your points together. However, you don’t want to simply restate the points you have already made. Instead, focus on showing how the texts you have used reveal the truth of your thesis statement together. This is a good point to take a look at a synthesis essay example.

Synthesis Essay Tips

Here are a few tips for writing a successful essay:

  • Consider different ways to structure your essay. For example, start with the least persuasive point and end with the most. You can also present your points as a series of problems and solutions.
  • Refer to the author or creator when you mention their points.
  • Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your assigned format (MLA, APA, Etc.)
  • Get feedback from your instructor on your topic choice and selection of sources.

Professional Synthesis Essay Assistance

Whether you need a synthesis writing example, editing or proofreading, or writing help, assistance is available. Read this guide first, then contact us for any additional assistance you may need.

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