Essay #2: Synthesis

Essay #2: Synthesis

Synthesis: Weaving summaries, paraphrases, and quotations into YOUR discussion, a quality synthesis balances material from sources into your discussion. The purpose for explanatory synthesis is to inform, describing factual information accurately and concisely. A good explanatory synthesis shows the relevance and relationship of each source to the writer’s original thesis.  A good synthesis shows connections between and among sources or discrepancies between and among sources.  A good synthesis seeks to understand the sources fully, completely, honestly. A synthesis identifies similarities and differences among the sources, illustrating YOUR understanding of the ideas and the evidence offered.

Directions: Write a 3-4 page, double-spaced synthesis essay (in MLA format) on the 3 sources provided: Charles Simic’s “Age of Reason”, Neal Gabler’s “Who’s Really to Blame for Fake News?” and Damon Brown’s “How to Choose Your News”. Your job is to analyze all three articles to find common themes, contrasting ideas, and important connections. You are essentially taking three different sources, and bundling the most relevant information in one paper. The goal of this essay is to inform your audience, and to present the facts in a reasonably objective manner. You’ll use techniques of summary, paraphrase, and quotation to support YOUR ideas about the agreement/disagreement, connection/challenge among the sources.

Suggestion: If you can submit your completed first draft, with 25% or less similarity by Thursday, I will be able to take a look at it and give you feedback. I will try to send it back to you within 24 hours, so that you have time to revise and resubmit before the deadline. Please proofread your final draft before submission.

List of sources for your synthesis essay:

  1. Who’s Really to Blame for Fake News.
  2. Age of Ignorance
  3. How to Choose Your News (video)


  • Choose your sources wisely.  Read those sources thoroughly to explore the content of each source and looking for connections or challenges. You can’t write about a topic you don’t understand.
  • Formulate your thesis with a strong assertionthat develops your thinking.
  • Draw out and infer relationships between the sources. Choose points that the sources discuss. Each author may not explicitly refer to each topic—but this is where YOUR skills come into play. You have to make the connections that may not be spelled out in the text.
  • Draw together themes and ideas that YOU connect in the sources. The very essence of synthesis is combining information sources and ideas.
  • You may want to develop a “matrix” of the sources to help you organize the various ideas of the sources.
  • Determine how you use your sources to support your thesis, using summary, paraphrase, and quotations to develop your ideas.  Let me caution to avoid using too many quotations!  Quote ONLY when the language is exceptionally powerful.


  • Be true to the ideas of the sources, but be selective as you present information that directly relates to the central idea of your synthesis.  YOU create the connections!
  • Explain the connections between and among the sources.
    • How do the sources differ?
    • How do they agree?
    • How does one source pick up where another left off?
    • How might two sources illustrate cause and effect?
  • Explore different ways to organize the information depending on what you find or what you want to demonstrate. You might find it helpful to make different outlines or plans before you decide which to use.  Let me caution you:  do not organize by source. 
  • Develop your paragraphs with ONE idea in one paragraph; make sure each paragraph has a topic sentence that represents YOUR thinking.  Remember that topic sentences avoid “facts”; there’s nothing to prove if your topic sentence is a fact.
  • Each paragraph should utilize two or more sources.If the paragraph has only one source, you haven’t synthesized the information!   Your organization of the sources is the most important facet for audience understanding.
  • Your body paragraphs should contain topic sentences that illustrate further development and, thus, a clear link to the thesis.


  • DO not create “standalone” paragraphs in which each paragraph is ONE source; synthesis is organized around YOUR ideas.
  • Sample plan


      • Thesis
        • Text titles and authors (optional)
        • Important background information needed for your audience
      • Body
        • Topic Sentence:  EACH topic sentence should reflect ONE idea of the thesis.
        • Your explanation of the connections, comparisons, contradictions.
      • Conclusion
        • Your final thoughts about the important ideas you’ve discovered.
      • Works Cited

Do NOT Organize by source as evidenced here:

  • Source A
    • Idea 1
    • Idea 2
  • Source B
  • Source C

DO organize by Idea But

    • Idea 1
      • Source D
      • Source A
      • Source B
    • Idea 2
      • Source A
      • Source B
      • Source C


Do document your sources in your work using MLA citation style including in-text citations and your Works Cited.

Key Reminders:

These skills are evident in synthesis writing;

  1. All sources are introduced in signal phrases (at least the first time).  Do establish the authority and credibility of each source the first time the source is used.
  2. All sources have clear boundaries.  It is clear where the source information begins and ends; the reader can distinguish between the source and the student writer.
  3. Source material is put into context, meaning the source material is integrated within your ideas.
  4. Quotations are clearly integrated, not “dropped in.”


Check your paragraphs: (You don’t have to keep this coloring as part of your work, however.)

  • Highlight source material in one color.
  • Highlight YOUR ideas in another color.
  • A good blend might be about 50/50 or even 60/40.  (But obviously a 10/90 or 20/80  blend is not indicative of exemplary synthesis.)


  • Arguing that one author is right and another is wrong.  You will argue, but you use the synthesis to explain what the details are.
  • Simply comparing and contrasting the most obvious points! Remember that your work must contain a thesis that YOU create about the relationships among the sources.
  • Doing the “data dump” to simply report what each source says.
  • Organizing your work with one paragraph per source.
  • “Standalone” paragraphs in which each paragraph is about ONE source.


THESE ARE THE LINKS:The Synthesis Essay is about these 3 links together :

1 (1.  Who’s Really to Blame for Fake News.)  –

2) . ( Age of Ignorance )–

3)  .(  How to Choose Your News (video) )–

Last Updated on February 14, 2019

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top