This Synthesis Essay (SE) is the first of two assignments that will constitute your research project. The other assignment is the Research Essay (RE), which will be your third major essay. You will use the same topic for the SE and RE. The synthesis essay gives you the opportunity to do initial research on your topic; to find out what has been said about the topic and the different viewpoints authors have on the topic.
For this assignment you will be required to use four sources, at least one them should be a scholarly source. I define scholarly sources as articles published in peer reviewed journals or academic textbook. The rationale of writing the SE is that by the time you get to write your RE, you will be able to contextualize your ideas on the on-going conversation on your topic.
A synthesis essay needs to have three elements:
What are sources are saying about the issue? This requires you to summarize sources. Remember in the process of summarizing sources you could use quotations and paraphrases where necessary.
Your commentary/response to what the source is saying. The goal here is for you to demonstrate critical thinking and critical reading, to engage with your sources.
Connecting sources. State how sources relate with one another; how the ideas of the sources are similar or different; which authors have similar views, and which authors have different views?
Summary of Essay Requirements
Choose a topic that you will be able to use for both the Synthesis essay and the Research essay (for module 2 and module 3). See the guidelines below to help you with choosing a topic.
Use four credible sources for your synthesis essay. At least one of the sources should be a scholarly source. Make sure you have sources that present different viewpoints on the topic, at least one of them should oppose your thesis.
Read your sources carefully in order to understand the main ideas in each source. This will allow you to identify not only what each source is saying but also how the sources are related (the similarities and/or differences in their views).
Synthesizing sources is more than just stating what the sources are saying about the topic/subject. It entails engaging the sources by exercising critical thinking and critical reading. This is why you are required to not only summarize sources but to also articulate your take on what the sources are saying and to make connections between sources.
Remember this is not a full-blown research essay. The purpose of this essay is NOT to develop an argument to support your thesis, it is about your research; it is about what your sources are saying about the topic, your take on what the sources are saying, and the relationship between the sources.
Be sure to avoid plagiarism. When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source, make sure you use appropriate citations.
The essay should be at least 4 pages (when double spaced), using Times 12-point font or an equivalent font size. Use MLA style.
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