What is synthesis? The Oxford English Dictionary says: “to put together or combine into a complex whole; to make up by combination of parts or elements” something something something new
What is synthesis? Chemistry is synthesis: Music is synthesis: 2 hydrogen 1 oxygen water instruments arrangements song
What is synthesis? Likewise, a literature review is a synthesis: • Instead of atoms or sounds, you’re combining the findings of scholars concerning your topic. • Instead of creating molecules or songs, you’re creating new knowledge about your topic. your arrangement, organization, and insights scholarly research literature review
What is synthesis? From St. Martin’s Handbook, 12e: When you read and interpret a source—for example, when you consider its purpose and relevance, its author’s credentials, its accuracy, and the kind of argument it is making—you are analyzing the source. Analysis requires you to take apart something complex (such as an article in a scholarly journal) and look closely at the parts to understand the whole better. For academic writing you also need to synthesize—group similar pieces of information together and look for patterns—so you can put your sources…together…. Synthesis is the flip side of analysis: you already understand the parts, so your job is to assemble them into a new whole.
How do you write a synthesis? Analyze • read the sources • annotate, highlight, underline • write summaries Synthesize • determine common themes • make connections between ideas • use your own words and ideas to bring order to the whole thing
Synthesizing Language • demonstrates • describes • details • dramatizes • elaborates • evaluates • explains • expresses • extends • generalizes • adds • analyzes • argues • asks • cites • compares • connects • continues • contradicts • contrasts
Synthesizing Language • projects • proposes • qualifies • questions • quotes • reasons • rebuts • reflects • repeats • states • illustrates • informs • interprets • introduces • lists • narrates • offers • opposes • predicts • presents
Synthesizing Language • counters • has a different opinion • goes in a different direction • refines that point • both x and y • neither x nor y • while x and y agree that…, z points out that… • speculates • suggests • summarizes • supports • synthesizes • traces • uses • agrees with • disagrees with • furthers this idea • complicates
Let’s practice synthesis You work on a team reading and synthesizing movie reviews for the website Rotten Tomatoes. Your next assignment:
Let’s practice synthesis • Read a review of the movie. • As you read, note what the reviewer says about these possible themes: • Luhrmann’s directing • DiCaprio’s acting • Discuss your findings with your group. • Write a paragraph that synthesizes the collective opinions of the reviews you read.