Your Own Words

two students studying

Oftentimes students are tasked with developing their own idea while trying to incorporate the arguments presented in various texts. Ultimately, many students struggle to find the division between their words and those of the authors of the textual support pieces. The blending of independent positions and the original author’s position generally leads to simple summarization of the author’s article. In order to reduce “summary” and add analysis to synthesis essays, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my paragraph of “analysis” actually the main idea of the textual evidence?
  2. Am I simply agreeing with what the author is stating?
  3. Am I lacking an answer to the question “so what?”

If you answered yes to the previous questions, your essay may lack development of an independent idea.

Tackling “So What?”

The overarching question of a synthesis essay in many introductory English courses relates to the application of a common stance amongst various authors. In other words, “why should we care about the thesis you are presenting?” First, identify a commonality among the textual pieces. Next, develop your personal viewpoint on the authors’ position. It is not necessary to agree with the authors; simply utilize creative counterarguments if you believe otherwise.

The conclusion of the synthesis essay should address the application of the thesis. In what way can you apply the general principle to the larger society and what impact will it have? For example, if the thesis incorporated the authors’ ideas to the general belief that global warming is bad, the concluding paragraph must incorporate your personal ideas on how to solve the problem and current impacts of global warming on a large scale (i.e. in the national society, a local community, or globally). By addressing the question “so what”, you have reduced the chances of simply summarizing the text.