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Analyzing & Synthesizing Sources: Synthesis: Definition and Examples

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Analyzing & Synthesizing Sources: Synthesis: Definition and Examples

Last updated 11/8/2016

Video Length: 2:50

Visual: The screen shows the Walden University Writing Center logo along with a pencil and notebook. “Walden University Writing Center.” “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. The background changes to the title of the video with open books in the background.

Audio: Guitar music plays.


Visual: Slide changes to the title “Moving Towards Synthesis” and the following:

Interpreting, commenting on, explaining, discussion of, or making connections between MULTIPLE ideas and sources for the reader.

Often answers questions such as:

  • What do these things mean when put together?
  • How do you as the author interpret what you’ve presented?

Audio: Synthesis is a lot like, I like to say it's like analysis on steroids. It's a lot like analysis, where analysis is you're commenting or interpreting one piece of evidence or one idea, one paraphrase or one quote. Synthesis is where you take multiple pieces of evidence or multiple sources and their ideas and you talk about the connections between those ideas or those sources. And you talk about where they intersect or where they have commonalities or where they differ. And that's what synthesis is. But really, in synthesis, when we have synthesis, it really means we're working with multiple pieces of evidence and analyzing them.


Visual: Slide changes to the title “Examples of Synthesis” and the following example:

Ang (2016) found that small businesses that followed the theory of financial management reduced business costs by 12%, while Sonfield (2015) found that this theory reduced costs by 17%. These studies together confirmed that adopting the theory of financial management reduces costs for U.S. small businesses.

Audio: So here's an example for you. In this eaxmple we have Ang (2016), that's source number 1, right? Then Sonfield (2015), that's source number 2. They are both using this theory and found that it reduced costs by both 12% and 17%. So this is my evidence, right?

I have one sentence, but two pieces of evidence, because we're working with two different sources, Ang and Sonfield, one and two. In my next sentence, my last sentence here, we have my piece of synthesis. Because I'm taking these two sources and saying that they both found something very similar. They confirmed that adopting the theory for financial management reduces costs for small businesses. So I'm showing the commonality between these two sources. So it's a very, sort of, not simple, but, you know, clean approach to synthesis. It's a very direct approach to kind of showing the similarities between these two sources. So that's an example of synthesis, okay.


Visual: The following example is added to the slide:

Sharpe (2016) observed an increase in students’ ability to focus after they had recess. Similarly, Barnes (2015) found that hands-on activities also helped students focus. Both of these techniques have worked well in my classroom, helping me to keep my students engaged in learning.

Audio: Another example here. So Sharpe found that one thing helps students. Barnes found another thing helps students focus. Two different sources, two different ideas. In the bold sentence of synthesis, I'm taking these two ideas together and talking about how they have both worked well in my classroom.

The synthesis that we have here kind of take two different approaches. The first example is more about how these studies confirm something. The second example is about how these two ideas can be useful in my own practice, I'm applying it to my own practice, or the author is applying it to their own practice in the classroom. But they both are examples of synthesis and taking different pieces of evidence showing how they work together or relate, okay.

I kind of like to think of synthesis as taking two pieces of a puzzle. So each piece of evidence is a piece of the puzzle. And you're putting together those pieces for the reader and saying, look, this is the overall picture, right? This is what we can see, when these two pieces--or three pieces--of the puzzle are put together. So it's kind of like putting together a puzzle.


Visual: “Walden University Writing Center. Questions? E-mail” appears in center of screen.