Friday, March 9, 2012

Synthesize This

Whenever I am asked to synthesize articles and write a response essay, I automatically start grooving to 80s music.

Synthesize is forever locked in my brain alongside famous SynthPop bands such as Soft Cell, Tears for Fears, and Depeche Mode (which is fun for about 15 minutes, and after that I wish for death). After I get over that 15 minute intense mental pop jam, I most often pause and say to myself, "Synthesize. Yikes. I forgot what that means! Analyze? to google."

Forgetting the definition of synthesize is easy for me because I most often confuse the term with Analysis. And guess what, I'm not the only person who does this. Truth!

This week I met three students who were working on a Synthesis paper, and each of them was inadvertently writing an analysis instead...eep! With three people being confused, I decided that this was indeed an epidemic, and something had to be done-- thus this post.

A nice simple easy definition of what a Synthesis essay does is this: To bring together your own ideas with the ideas of other writers (sources--articles, books, films, 80s music).

An Analysis means that you break a topic down into smaller parts or sections and dive into it, spend time discussing the ideas, and get extremely familiar with all aspects of the topic.

In hindsight, Analysis seems much more difficult than Synthesis, at least in definition. So, yeah! Synthesize doesn't sound so bad, right?

Also, a synthesis essay allows you to take the information that you have learned through your sources and add your own theories and ideas--and this (in my humble opinion) is more of a learning experience.

When you have studied your head off and devoted your sweet time to your selected field, you can take the knowledge you learned and enter into a conversation with other persons (your sources). Then you are able to bring everything together and come up with something new--holy cats that's sweet! And also a major Kumbaya moment.

How do you write a synthesis? First off, you read.

You read A LOT.

After your eyes have bled from all this reading, a neat trick to do is write a quick little summary regarding each of your sources. Sometimes this helps especially if you have a lot of sources and have a difficult time keeping track (not that I have ever done that...).

Once you have those summaries, quickly read through them and then take a moment. What do you think? What do you want to say regarding this conversation? Do you have something different to say? Or perhaps you have something similar to say OR the ultimate scenario--you have groundbreaking stuff to say.

What next? Write that thesis statement. Put that ultimate groundbreaking bit of information into one killer thesis statement and get to work!

The rest of the synthesis essay is written much like any other essay: introduction (possibly mention the articles/sources that you will be synthesizing), thesis statement, lots of body paragraphs with good relevant information, solid transitions, an occasional transitionary paragraph (just for kicks), and a sensational conclusion.

You will have so much fun synthesizing your own theory with that of others that this paper will write itself (seriously...this paper is a great paper to write).

So when you are assigned that synthesis paper remember to do the following: lots of reading, develop a strong thesis statement, formulate your thoughts into a conversation with that of your sources, and enjoy 80s SynthPop music.

Or you can just do THIS.

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