Synthesis Objective

OverviewView the instructor narrated PowerPoint explanation of Project Three While Project 2 focused on the rhetoric in one specific text, in Project 3, we will focus on comparing the ideas and issues raised by all the authors of our assigned readings. This project has been designed to stimulate your thinking in new ways, inviting you to synthesize the authors’ views in an objective look at their work. The draft should be 4 – 5 pages in length and will cover all 6 assigned readings.

ObjectivesAnalyze the articles as a body of work to determine the common threads and key subtopics addressed by the authors Narrow your scope to the most important points Create a grid of those common points to understand how they are related Develop an understanding of synthesis Organize the paper by subtopics/points, not by source, synthesizing all the information Maintain objectivity as you describe the source material Write for an audience unfamiliar with the source material Distinguish and cite multiple sources in-text using MLA parenthetical citations and on a Works Cited page

Assignment GuidelinesAudience: Imagine an audience of readers who have not read the assigned articles but are interested in learning what has recently been written about the topic Introduction: The beginning of the paper should briefly introduce the topic addressed by the articles that your paper will cover. Assume your readers already have some general knowledge of the topic. Thesis: You will arrive at your thesis ONLY AFTER you have completed your prework activities. For this assignment, your thesis will be more of a focusing statement, a sentence which answers this question: What do the authors of recent articles on _________ say about ___________________________________?

(Fill in the blanks with the wording that you believe best captures the subject matter addressed by the authors; then answer the question.) The statement will set up the rest of the paper by indicating to the reader what will be addressed. It will describe the articles overall, no easy task to accomplish! A good model for the statement might look something like this: Recent articles on _________________ focus on _________, ________________, ____________, and ________________. Synthesis and organization: The body of the paper will describe and further develop the

8/3/2009 3:48 PM


ideas listed in the thesis. The body of the paper should be organized not sourceby-source but subtopic-by-subtopic, incorporating various segments of source material wherever appropriate to describe the source material overall. This is synthesis. Synthesis comes from the Greek word suntithenai — to put together, and occurs when two or more things are combined to create something new — whether it is a new idea, a new fabric, a new sound, or a new piece of writing. For this assignment you will combine material from sources to create a new text – your paper. (See also the last two paragraphs on p. 267 for our textbook’s explanation of synthesis.)

Using a grid:When drafting the paper, some students make the mistake of structuring it like an annotated bibliography without the citations. They summarize the sources one after another but don’t make connections between them or show how the authors’ views compare or contrast. Those connections should weave the elements of the paper together — they should form a synthesis. To help you achieve the expected level of synthesis, you will create a grid for your draft rehearsal. Using a grid to identify the key concepts from the articles is critical to helping you synthesize the material.

It will ensure that your essay is organized by subtopic, not by source. This means the various authors’ names will appear and reappear throughout the paper. Maintaining objectivity. You must remain objective and unbiased as you review the source material. Remember, your purpose is to report only on what has been written recently about your topic. You should not discuss the issues involved or take a position. In this assignment, your readers do not wish to learn what you think; they want to learn what the authors think.

Therefore, you must be careful not to go beyond describing the authors’ views. Don’t say which views are “right” or “better”; instead, show how they are related by comparing the ideas presented in the articles. Just focus on what the authors say, not what you think about what the authors say — except to show how their ideas compare. E.g., Although Carr claims x, Rosen thinks y. A good objective synthesis paper sticks to its purpose by maintaining focus on the articles, not the subject matter.

This means that as you write you make it clear that subject of the paper is the source material. You should identify the topic of each section or paragraph with topic sentences like The authors of recent articles on ____________ are most interested in ….. or While the sources suggests that cyberbullying is not easily solved, several strategies are mentioned which ….. Establish your focus on the sources, beginning with the introduction, and maintain it through to the conclusion. Since the sources themselves are the subject of your paper, you must be careful to introduce and identify them consistently. Using effective transitions will also help you sustain the focus on the source material.

End each section with a closing sentence that wraps up the section and/or serves as a transition to the next section. Your closing sentence should answer the question, “What can be concluded about this body of articles regarding this specific subtopic?” Integrating sources Avoid stacking quotes. Don’t place one quote after the other with no words of your own to put the quotes in context. Instead, comment on the quotes and explain their significance, connecting them to the other ideas you are discussing.

8/3/2009 3:48 PM


Avoid dropping quotations into your writing without warning; instead, provide clear signal phrases, such as “According to Williams, ….” to prepare readers for the source material. Here is an example of a dropped quotation: Although the bald eagle is still listed as an endangered species, its ever-increasing population is very encouraging. “The bald eagle seems to have stabilized its population, at the very least, almost everywhere” (Sheppard 83). Here is an example of a quotation with a signal phrase (in red): Although the bald eagle is still listed as an endangered species, its ever-increasing population is very encouraging. According to ornithologist Jay Sheppard, “The bald eagle seems to have stabilized its population, at the very least, almost everywhere” (83).

Provide the author’s credentials: When you introduce the authors for the first time in the paper, establish their credibility by describing their occupation or area of expertise:readers like to know -who is this person being quoted? Through what lens is he or she looking at this issue? What is their angle or possible bias on this topic? This adds credibility to your writing as well. Note in the signal phrase above, Jay Sheppard’s area of expertise in indicated — he’s an ornithologist. Here are more examples of providing the author’s credentials (in blue): Sebastian Waisman, author of “We are the Change We’ve Been Waiting For” in The New Atlantis, argues that social networking sites are “awash in narcissism” (83).

Nicholas Carr, author of the recent book The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google, believes that the Internet is “chipping away at [his] capacity for concentration and contemplation.” A word about titles Capitalize titles of articles. Italicize titles of the publications in which they appear. (See the examples above.) As you describe the authors’ ideas, use strong signal verbs such as the following: acknowledges adds admits agrees argues asserts believes claims comments endorses compares confirms contends declares denies disputes emphasizes endorses grants illustrates implies insists notes observes points out refutes rejects reports responds suggests thinks writes

To avoid monotony, try to vary your signal phrases. Here are some possibilities: In the words of researcher Herbert Terrace, “. . . . . . . . . . .” (37). Anthropologist Flora Davis has noted that . . . . . . . . . . . The Gardners, Washoe’s trainers, assert that “ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” (13). Psychologist H.S. Terrace offers this argument: “ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” (92).

3 of 5

8/3/2009 3:48 PM


Punctuating the signal phrases: In the above examples, note that there is no comma after “that”. Also look at the last example, in which the signal phrase is an independent clause and is therefore followed by a colon rather than a comma. For more information on punctuating signal phrases, see Punctuating Integrated Source Material — Where do those commas go? When continuing to use material from the same source in subsequent sentences, indicate that by using appropriate signal phrases: “Smith goes on to say….” Miller continues, pointing out that….. “The study also found that……”

PreworkRead the assigned material in the textbook. (See schedule). View the PowerPoint presentation on the assignment. List all the key subtopics/ideas covered in the articles; then decide which ones your paper will emphasize. Create a grid for the draft rehearsal (Link to template.) Complete the developing and shaping exercise -working from the grid Participate in the Draft Rehearsal Peer Review Form

Peer review formWhat’s due with the draft

Draft (MINIMUM 4 full pages, Times New Roman Font Size 12) with Writer’s Statement using MS Word’s Review function to insert comments Works Cited Peer review What’s due with the essay (to be graded) The revised final essay with Works Cited page. Pages should be numbered. Be sure to edit carefully; this is your final product. A brief reflection on exactly what you did to revise based on my feedback and your own concerns. Be specific — Where in your essay will I find changes? What are those changes? What did you try to accomplish with your revision? How do you feel about the results? Please note: All projects must be completed, and all projects must be done in the order assigned. No exceptions!

__________________________________________________________________ 4 of 5

8/3/2009 3:48 PM


Additional ResourcesJuly 6, 2009

5 of 5

8/3/2009 3:48 PM