Essay 1: Synthesis
Rough, rough draft: 2/3
Peer review draft due: 2/5 and 2/7 (20 points: 1 copy online (2/7) and 1 for in class peer review (2/5))
Final essay due: 2/12 (190 points and 10 points for self-assessment)
Grade distribution: thesis: 10%, organization and content: 50%, introduction/conclusion: 10%, research and citation: 15% grammar: 10%
Your essay must be 4 pages long, typed, double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 pt. font with 1” margins on all sides. You will cite your sources in MLA format with a Works Cited page attached.
This assignment is designed to facilitate the following skills:
Using inquiry to guide research
Conducting adequate research to produce multiple viewpoints on one topic of inquiry
Identifying and evaluating sources
Effectively summarizing, paraphrasing, and synthesizing various viewpoints
You will begin to research the topic you have chosen to write about. This is the point at which you will gain a larger and deeper understanding of your topic, developing new research questions and search terms through your reading on your subject. You should continue reading and researching until you have acquired 4-5 clear, useful sources, each of which adds a different viewpoint to the conversation. Of these, 2-3 should be scholarly and 2 may be popular. After finding 4-5 sources that cover multiple viewpoints on the issue you’re researching, you will write an essay in which you synthesize the viewpoints. Your essay should introduce the conversation surrounding your topic, place the sources you have found into that conversation, and clearly and thoroughly summarize and paraphrase those articles in a cohesive, logical analysis. Your purpose is mainly to connect the sources in order to provide an overview of the larger topic that you have selected for the semester; the synthesis essay is mainly trying to answer “what” the issues pertaining to your topic are, rather than ask why it is a problem (academic argument) or how it may be resolved (public argument). Remember, this is the first of three assignments based on your topic; through the synthesis, you will not only learn but also explain the background information to your readers. For instance, if your topic is the marginalization of the homeless, then your synthesis essay should be an overview of who the homeless are and how they are being marginalized.
Your essay should begin with an Introduction in which you set up the general context of the issue. You will not introduce your sources in the introduction, but provide an overall background of the subject, which will help you lead into the thesis statement.
You will follow that introduction with several body paragraphs, each of which will incorporate PIE.
Point: Each body paragraph should begin with a Point, or a topic sentence, that makes a claim about how the authors of the articles approach a particular element concerning your topic.
Illustration: each Point should be followed by 2-3 direct quotes or a paraphrase from the source(s) that illustrates the claim you made about that viewpoint in the Point.
Explanation: Each Illustration should be followed by an Explanation of how the quotes or paraphrased materials act an example of or illustrate the Point. The Explanation is your own interpretation of the borrowed material and it should also help you transition from one viewpoint to another.
The essay will end with a Conclusion in which you will briefly sum up the issues that you have discussed in the body paragraphs and dwell on the larger implications of the study that you have conducted. You can focus on its significance as well as make recommendations for further studies (which you will end up conducting in the academic argument).
- You will begin by narrowing down your topic to formulate a specific research question that your synthesis paper will attempt to answer.
- Through the library instruction, you will learn how to gather information by identifying effective search terms/keywords, and also how to collect useful sources.
- As you collect your 4-5 sources for this essay, keep the research question in mind so that you know how your sources relate to each other.
- The short writing exercises in class will help you learn how to evaluate and annotate your sources, as well as avoid plagiarism and create a synthesis chart.
- Based on the synthesis chart, you will start drafting the essay. The rough, rough draft will help you understand whether you are on the right track in terms of developing the introduction and demonstrating synthesis in at least one body paragraph.
- Peer reviews of the full draft will help you not only get other perspectives on your writing, but also show you how others are approaching the assignment.
- Finally, you will revise the peer-reviewed draft, cite all your sources precisely, add the works cited page and submit the essay. The process always takes longer than you planned for, so start early and get feedback often.
A successful synthesis essay will achieve the following course goals
- Clearly summarize the research, breaking the sources into clear varying viewpoints that are in conversation with each other (synthesis).
- Quote and paraphrase carefully and thoroughly
- Reflect a clear understanding of the topic and the research
- Maintain a clear structure with an introduction ending in a thesis, body paragraphs that employ PIE, and a clear conclusion