Jul 11, 2018 in What is an Essay
What Is a Synthesis Essay

What is a synthesis essay? Wish to learn more about ‘synthesize’ definition or ‘synthesized’ definition? Those are the questions asked by numerous students when they are given an assignment to write. Usually, when one tries to define synthesis, he/she means combining ideas and styles. It is true for synthesis, but not fully. To prepare a good synthesis essay, you will need to synthesize information, including ideas, beliefs, and styles, from several sources. That means you need to be able to deduce relationships between a great variety of sources. In reality, it is not that difficult and you have surely synthesized information. For example, you certainly have drawn relationships between what you hear on news and what you see for yourself. Furthermore, if you have written a research paper for any of your courses, you have, in fact, written syntheses essays. When searching for what is synthesis in writing, you will find that it suggests establishing relationships that you have inferred from different sources.

Throughout your course of studies, you definitely have practiced some writing skills that will be helpful for developing a synthesis paper. Surely, before drawing relationships between different sources, you need to understand what exactly those sources are about. Consequently, you need to be able to comprehend major points and summarize the sources. Providing some critique on the sources is also a good idea for a synthesis essay.

Any essay, including synthesis paper, needs to follow a certain structure. Thus, your assignment will be to provide at least a 5-paragraph synthesis essay. Given the peculiarities of the assignment, you need to be very careful and selective when choosing a number of sources and the information from each source. What can be effectively synthesized in a short 5-page paper, may require additional sources for a 5-page synthesis paper. Therefore, you need to choose the most essential information and ideas from each of your source that will allow you to develop best synthesis paragraphs that will support the purpose of your writing.

What is the Purpose of a Synthesis Essay

Same sources can be used to write virtually any type of assignment, including argumentative essay, analytical essay, synthesis journal, thesis paper, etc. Oftentimes, the purpose of your writing will be stated in your assignment. For instance, you can be asked to analyze a text, state your position as to the presented arguments, compare and contrast the ideas, or explain the items. Consequently, you need to mind that the purpose of a synthesis paper is to combine information from different sources in a logical and supporting manner.

Making Use of Your Sources

The main purpose of your writing not only determines what specific information from your sources you will use but also signifies the way how that information will be related and combined. Consequently, when choosing sources you need to pay special attention on which basis they can be combined and worth synthesizing. You have to effectively relate your sources, but remember to cite them appropriately in APA or MLA whenever you refer to them.

Synthesis Paper Definition

If you wish to know what is a synthesis paper, you need to first learn about two basic types of synthesis papers, namely explanatory synthesis and argument synthesis. Explanatory synthesis is aimed at explaining the topic. For this purpose, you may choose to divide the topic into components and present them in a sequential order. Explanatory synthesis suggests simple presentation of the facts in a comprehensive manner rather than arguing a certain standpoint. However, writing an argumentative essay may sometimes require passages of explanatory synthesis nature.

The purpose of argument synthesis, on the other hand, is to present clear and evidence-supported viewpoint. Consequently, when writing argument synthesis, you will need to develop different types of thesis statements, which others can object to, that will be further supported by various facts synthesized from your sources.

Techniques that Help Develop Synthesis Papers


The simplest technique to use when writing a synthesis essay is to provide summaries of your most relevant sources in the order from least to most important. However, the trick is that it considered to be the least sophisticated technique that does not show your independent work. Nevertheless, it can be handled and used effectively if you combine summaries with other techniques used for developing synthesis papers.


Sometimes in order to make your synthesis more appealing and understandable, you might want to support it with examples from your sources. For this, you may summarize, paraphrase or quote (but mind to provide credit appropriately in MLA, APA, or other required style).

Two-Reason Technique

So-called two-reason technique is an effective method for developing a synthesis paper. This method suggests developing a sophisticated thesis statement and then support it with the information from your sources. You may provide as many reasons as you may think of within your length limits; but mind that most significant reason needs to come at the end of your research paper thesis, as it will remain in your readers’ mind.

Strawman Technique

Strawman suggests that in the body paragraphs of your synthesis, you present claims that factually contradict your thesis, however you immediately prove these claims to be flawed or weak. The principle strength of those argumentative techniques that favors you as a writer is that it clearly shows your awareness of opposite standpoint.


Concession is another argumentative technique somewhat similar to strawman. Yet, unlike strawman, concession starts with presenting opposing claims, which is not immediately refuted. On the contrary, concession acknowledges opposing viewpoint, but further the paper develops stronger counterarguments that refute the opposing view and support your claim in a convincing manner.

Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

Compare and contrast thesis statement technique gives an opportunity to examine and present two points or two sources. Comparison enables you to analyze similarities, while contrast entails analysis of aspects or claims in your sources that differ. This technique is very helpful since it entails both analysis and synthesis.

To develop an effective compare/contrast essay, you need to carefully consider your sources and choose points for analysis, but then find the crossing points that would allow for synthesis. Thus, compare/contrast technique is not analysis vs synthesis but rather a combination of both.

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