Skip to main content

Webinar Transcripts

Synthesis and Thesis Development

Presented June 20, 2018

View the recording

Last updated 9/4/2018

 

Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

The slide says “Housekeeping” and the following:

  • Recording
    • Webinar is being recorded and will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
    • Send to writingsupport@waldenu.edu
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Michael:  All right, hi everyone and welcome. I'm Michael Dusek and I'm a Writing Instructor here at Walden University. Before we begin and I hand the session over to Kacy, let's quickly cover a few housekeeping items. First, we are recording this webinar, so you are welcome to access it at a later date, via our webinar archive. In fact, note that we record all of our webinars at the Writing Center, so you're welcome to look through that archive for other webinars that might interest you as well. Lastly, we might mention a few other webinars that would be helpful follow-up after to this webinar during the session. So, feel free to check that out also.

Also, whether you are attending this webinar live or are watching a recording, note that you’ll will be able to participate in any polls that we use, files we share or links we provide. Including the PowerPoint presentation Kacy will be sharing which is located in the files pod.

Also, we also welcome any questions and comments throughout the session via the Q&A box. Both Sarah and myself will be watching the Q&A box and we’d be happy to answer questions throughout the session as Kacy is talking. You're also welcome to send any technical issues to us as well, although note that there is a help button at the top right corner of your screen. This is Adobe's technical help, so that’s really the best place to go if you need help. Alright, with that, I will hand over to Kacy.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Synthesis and Thesis Development” and the speakers name and information: Kacy Walz, Writing Instructor.

Audio: Kacy:  As Michael said, my name is Kacy. I am a Writing Instructor here at the Walden Writing Center. And today I am calling in from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m so glad that all of you decided to join us for this webinar about synthesis and thesis development. I think these are two really challenging aspects of academic writing but they are so, so important. I think this is going to be a really great webinar.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Today’s learning objectives:

  • Understand the role synthesis and thesis development have in creating an academic argument
  • Identify the essential components of a thesis statement and how to revise for those components
  • Understand and implement the three steps to synthesis

Audio: Our goals for today's webinar are that by the end of today's session, you’ll be able to understand the role synthesis and thesis development have in creating an academic argument in developing your papers and thoughts. You’ll be able to identify the essential components of a thesis statement and how to revise for those components, and then understand, implement the three steps that we use to help create effective synthesis.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Why synthesis and thesis development?

In academic writing, you aren’t simply reporting what others said on a topic.

You are arguing something about a topic.

Audio: One thing to think about -- and one of the reasons that I think synthesis and thesis development can be so tricky -- is because of what the goal is in academic writing. So, when you're writing academically and you're writing papers for your Walden courses or for your capstone project or for your publications, you aren’t just repeating what other people are saying. You're not just regurgitating information from someone else. You're actually entering a larger discussion with something of your own, some argument of your own, some purpose of your own. So, that's why these things are so important because we want to make sure that, that, whatever it is that you're arguing or you're illustrating or suggesting, all of those things are going to be really clear to your reader.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Why synthesis and thesis development?

Thesis

  • “the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose” (Writing Center)
  • Which supports comes from

Synthesis

  • “present new ideas based on interpretations of other evidence or arguments” (Writing Center)

Audio: So, we like to think of thesis and synthesis as connected, as interlocking. That's why they are both in this webinar today. We define the thesis at the Writing Center as a brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. So basically, this is where your reader is going to be able to look and see, this is what this writer wants me to take away from whatever this piece of writing is. This is what they want me to understand. Your thesis is going to come out of the synthesis that you do.

We define synthesis as a way of presenting new ideas based on interpretation of other evidence or arguments. Your thesis comes out of that new idea, whatever it is that you have developed out of your research.

And then again, it all circle’s back because that synthesis should support your thesis sentence. That can seem kind of obvious but it's really important to look at how all of these elements work together so that as you're revising or as you're writing, that you're thinking about the ways that these two pieces work.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Quick poll:

What do you find to be the hardest part of synthesizing ideas and research?

  1. Using multiple sources in one paragraph
  2. Finding a way to compare the sources
  3. Analyzing the sources
  4. Adding my own ideas to the research

Audio: So, before we get into some of the more details of these two elements, I’m really interested to know, what you find to be the hardest part of synthesizing ideas and research? We have four options for you to think about today, so you can choose whichever one you feel most closely illustrates your own concerns. We have, using multiple resources in one paragraph, finding a way to compare the sources, analyzing the sources, or adding your own ideas to the research.

[pause as students type]

Awesome, so you guys were really fast on that, and I see some people are still entering their answers to the poll. But I think this is really helpful because one, it maybe lets me know why you decided to attend this webinar. The good news is, we are going to be talking about all four of these things in the webinar, so hopefully, I will be able to answer some of your questions or you will be able to ask some questions of Sarah and Michael in the chat box. So that’s helpful.

Also, I think it's really helpful for you to be able to think about this. Sometimes when we are writing we can understand we are struggling with something, but it's hard to pinpoint whatever it is that’s making this difficult. So, if we could can think about it and put it in words, it goes a long way to start working on developing those skills. Alright.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Critical Reading Is Essential to Creating Thesis Synthesizing

Critical reading is all about interacting and engaging with the texts that you are reading.

Two approaches:

  1. Reading the text as a judge of its scholarly value.
  2. Reading the text with your own agenda (your thesis or theory) or experiences in mind.

Find more critical reading tips from the Academic Skills Center!

Audio: Thank you so much for participating in that poll, it’s helpful to me.

The first part of thesis creation and synthesizing is actually the reading that you are doing prior to any writing at all. This kind of seems like maybe a pre-step, but it's so important for both analyzing and paraphrasing and getting all of those pieces that you need to create an effective thesis and to effectively synthesize your information.

So critical reading is all about interacting and engaging with the text that you are reading. So, rather than just skimming over the words, or if you're ever like me and you're really tired and all of a sudden you find you're at the bottom of a page of reading and realize you have no idea what you have read up to that point, you're not critically reading. Critically reading, is slow reading, it’s really thinking about what the author's goal is, and thinking about how you are engaging in this larger conversation with whatever it is they’re saying.

And you can consider this in two different approaches. You can read the text as a judge of its scholarly value. So, you can think about, what kinds of pieces, one of my former students described this so well, is that research can be like detective work. So, when you're reading things, you are kind of being a detective. You want to look for all these pieces of evidence that are going to show you that this piece of text is a reliable source, that it's of scholarly value. You might look at things like tone, you might look at things like how many good references does it have, how many good sources, is it citing itself, and all of those different aspects that are really going to help you understand, for yourself judge that this is a worthwhile text for you and that it’s a worthwhile text of scholarship?

The second is reading the text with your own agenda or your own thesis or theory or experiences in mind. And this is what you are going to do if you already have a really clear idea of your thesis or of your argument or whatever the assignment is, you have a really clear idea of what your goal is. And so, then you can do your reading with that goal in mind and be constantly thinking about how this information plays a role in your own writing and your own goal. So that comes a little bit, that might not come right away if you are reading more so to figure out what you want to argue. But once you have that argument in mind, you can start thinking about that as you read, thinking about your own argument.

We also have this link below for more critical reading tips, cause it’s such an important part of  academic writing. We've got lots of resources for you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development

Remember:

THESIS: “the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose” (Walden Writing Center)

Audio: We will start out with thesis development. And just as a reminder, we call a thesis statement, purpose statement, argumentative statement, we describe it as the brief articulation of your paper's central argument. That's what the Walden Writing Center is defining it as.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development

Three important characteristics:

  • Concise: Phrasing is short and to the point
  • Specific: Appropriate detail for the scope of what you’re writing
  • Arguable: Can be developed for or against

Audio: There are three important characteristics to a strong thesis. Phrasing is short and to the point for a conclusion. Than you use appropriate detail for the scope of what you're writing, that means making sure you're being specific. And that you have a thesis that can be developed or argued against. Meaning that it is arguable.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development: Concise

Walking at 3 miles per hour is a useful exercise that should be performed 3 hours a week to combat obesity in Tomah, Wisconsin.

  • Does it include too much detail?
  • Is there any information we could leave out?

Audio: So, we'll talk about each of these three pieces on their own. The first part is about being concise. Here's an example thesis statement I might be working with. Walking at 3 miles per hour is a useful exercise that should be performed 3 hours a week to combat obesity in Tomah, Wisconsin.  So, I have my thesis statement there and I'm going to ask myself, does it include too much detail, or is there any information I might be able to leave out? You can try and think about that yourself with that thesis statement that I just gave you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development: Concise

Walking a few times a week is a useful exercise for combating obesity in small communities.

  • Does it include too much detail?
  • Is there any information we could leave out?

Audio: What you might come up with, or what I've come up with a least, is that, it was a little bit too specific. So here I've changed it to "Walking a few times a week is a useful exercise for combating obesity in small communities." This allows you to branch out your research, perhaps, if you want to talk about other communities aside from Tomah. It allows you to consider, maybe people are walking faster, maybe they are walking slower, maybe they are walking more or fewer than three times a week. You’re opening all of those things up for further discussion and for more information for your reader.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development: Arguable

Walking a physical activity. My purpose will be to describe this physical activity.

  • Could you argue against this statement? Is there a counter statement?
  • Is the statement capable of advancement? Can it be supported?

Audio: You also want to make sure that your thesis is arguable. So, you want to make sure, I think about it like this, is it an interesting paper? I tell my students, nobody wants to read a paper talking about how a specific wall is a certain color. I don't want to read a paper's thesis sentence is, "This wall is gray." People aren't going to argue about that and moreover, there's not really a reason to argue about it, right? Here we have a reason: Walking is a physical activity. My purpose will be to describe this physical activity.

And your purpose might be to describe a specific activity. But here we don't really have enough information to make the something someone is either going to want to argue about, or really, if you can imagine, finding this in a journal or finding this where you are looking for something to read, this is probably not going to jump out at you as something you want to think about or talk about.

And so, as I'm writing this and I look at this thesis, I might ask myself, can I argue against this statement? Is there a counter statement, or a worthwhile counter statement? Because people can argue anything, right? [LAUGHS] But we want to think, is there something reasonable, is there an interesting discussion to be had here. Is the statement capable of advancement, can it be supported? Again, this is where that critical reading comes in to play. Have I read other interesting articles or other interesting comments about this thesis?

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development

Weekly sessions of an activity like walking can help combat obesity in small communities.

  • Could you argue against this statement? Is there a counter statement?
  • Is the statement capable of advancement? Can it be supported?

Audio: So, instead, we can change it to, "Weekly sessions of an activity like walking can help combat obesity in small communities." So, it's clear that because we've used walking, right, we are going to be talking about walking. But we are going to be opening it up to some potential argument. Maybe someone is going to say, "Walking isn't a strenuous enough activity, so that wouldn't help combat obesity." Or maybe there is something about the small-town communities that it would work better to do some other kind of physical activity. So, we can have a more interesting conversation about this specific thing in this argument.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development

Walking is a useful exercise for combating obesity

  • Does this statement include enough details?
  • Is it narrow enough for the assignment?

Audio: The next step is specific. I think this can be a little bit tricky because I have just talked about how you want to make sure you are being concise. So, there is that balance that you want to draw between being concise and specific. In this example we have, "Walking is a useful exercise for combating obesity."

And you might think about, is this really going to be a good argument? Is it going to be interesting? But what specifically can I develop here? Does the statement include enough details so that I can elaborate on my argument so I can develop this point further?

Is it narrow enough for the assignment? Oftentimes what I see is students trying to write a six-page paper on a giant topic, like their going to write a six-page paper on cancer research or something like that. That is just too broad. You can write, people have written dissertations on cancer research. So, you want to make sure that you're allowing yourself an argument that you're going to be able to follow through with in whatever the assignment is that you've been given.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development: Specific

Weekly sessions of a low-impact

exercise like walking can help combat obesity in small communities.

  • Does the statement include enough details?
  • Is it narrow enough for the assignment?

Audio: So instead, I might change this to, "Weekly sessions of a low-impact exercise like walking can help combat obesity in small communities."  So again, we’ve broken that down a little bit. We’ve become more specific in what populations we're going to be dealing with. At the same time, of that being specific, we are opening it up to different kinds of exercise. So, it's low-impact exercises. Maybe I am going to be putting emphasis on walking, but that suggestion of like walking allows me to maybe, talk about some more pieces or bring in more information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Development:

Is the thesis concise, arguable, and specific?

Mobile phone use in the college classroom is a topic many educators are discussing.

Audio: So, here's a different topic and I want you to write in the discussion box, if the thesis is concise, arguable and specific -- basically, is this an effective thesis? "Mobile phone use in the college classroom is a topic many educators are discussing." You’re going to let me know if you think this is an effective thesis based on if it is arguable, concise and specific. I am going to give you a few minutes

[pause as students type]

Some have some differing opinions, but if we are looking at this as a thesis sentence and we want to consider concise, arguable and specific, we might say okay this is pretty concise, we are talking about mobile phone use in the college classroom. So, we are not talking about laptops or iPads or music players. We are talking specifically about mobile phones. We are talking about it in the college classroom, so we are not work spaces or high school classroom. We have specified that location and that specific element. So maybe it's concise.

Then is it arguable? This seems to be where people are having some discussion about whether or not it is arguable. Mobile phone use in the college classroom is a topic many educators are discussing. So, this isn't really arguable. Let's say I want to say no, it's not a topic that educators are discussing. All someone would have to do to prove me wrong is to show me a piece of literature where educators are talking about mobile usage in college classrooms. There's research being done about this phenomenon, is it good? Is it bad? This is not really arguable topic.

Again, you might think about, is it specific? It might fit the concise and specific, but arguable is where I think, even because we are seeing that there is a lot of debate about whether or not it is arguable, I think suggests that we could make it into a stronger statement.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis

Remember:

SYNTHESIS: “comparing different material and highlighting similarities, differences, and connections”  

“present[ing] new ideas based on interpretations of other evidence or arguments” (Walden Writing Center)

Audio: We are going to move on to synthesis. We want to remember that for our definition, we are going to be saying that synthesis is comparing different materials to highlight similarities, differences and connections. You're going to be presenting new ideas based on interpretations of other evidence or arguments.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis is about connecting the dots…

            Step 1: Discrete, separate pieces of information and sources

            Step 2: Your analysis, interpretation, and evaluation

            Step 3: New idea, perspective, conclusion

Audio: Here is kind of a little visual image of how to think about synthesis.

First, we have these little dots. Right? They are all separate, they are kind of floating around. You are doing a reading, you are thinking about your own experiences and arguments. But they are all just kind of together but they are all very individualized elements.

So, you, as the scholar, are going to think about all those different pieces of evidence and experience and evaluate them. This step is kind of you processing all of that information.

The third step is presenting the new idea or perspective or conclusion that you have created based on your understanding, your evaluation of all these discrete separate pieces of information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis – easy as cake! [image of cake ingredients]

Audio: One of our instructors considered it as making a cake. When you are making a cake, you've got lots of different items, you’ve got eggs, flour, sugar. If you are like me, you have a box mix, some oil and some eggs, maybe some water. These are all separate things, but when you put them together and put them in the oven, think of the oven as your own analysis, your own processing of the information, it comes out as brand-new. Because a cake is different than eggs, it’s different than oil and water. It's its own unique, new thing. That's what you are doing with synthesis. You are putting together these different ingredients creating something new that is made up of all these different ingredients but that is completely different than any single one.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 1: Why Paraphrasing?

  • Requires and shows more critical engagement with your sources
  • Emphasizes and establishes your voice as the author in your writing
  • Improves the flow and transitions in your writing

Audio: So, step one is paraphrasing. I think my slides went a little bit out of order, but that’s okay. Step one in synthesis is paraphrasing. We want to think about ... let's make sure I didn't skip one ... we want to think about why paraphrasing is so important.

So, paraphrasing, often times in the Writing Center, we talk about how in academic writing, we recommend paraphrasing over direct quotation. Some reasons are because paraphrasing requires you to show, to illustrate that you are conducting that critical engagement with your sources. You can't create an effective paraphrase if you are just skimming through the information and not really absorbing it. It helps to emphasis and establish your own voice as the author in your writing. So, you want to make sure that it’s your thoughts and arguments that are really at the forefront of your academic writing.

It also improves the flow and transitions in your writing. I think flow can be one of those ephemeral ideas. We all want out writing to have flow but it can sometimes be difficult to decide what that really means. And so, if you think about flow as the way a paper really reads, if you are using a bunch of direct quotations, you are using someone else's voice and are having to manipulate your own writing so that, that quotation fits in. If you paraphrase, however, you’re able to take that information and you’re able to present it in a way that's going to be most effective for the argument that you want to present. It's going to be able to kind of seamlessly fit into your own writing, because it is your own writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 1: Paraphrasing

  • 1. Read to understand
  • 2. Write in your own words
  • 3. Compare with original
  • 4. Look for borrowed phrasing
  • 5. Cite

Audio: So, in terms of paraphrasing, we break it down into a couple of steps. You want to read to understand, that’s, that critical reading. You want to write it in your own words. And this can be very tricky. I actually like to try to read something, and then put it to the side so I can't see it when I am trying to paraphrase. Because I think it can be very difficult if you already have somebody who is very smart, someone who has been published, so is probably a pretty good writer whose written this information. It would be very easy to do what we call a bad paraphrase or ineffective paraphrasing, where maybe you're just switching out some words for synonyms, but you’re not actually putting this in to your own words and presenting it in a new way.

And so, again, maybe I have taken that original, I have put it to the side, I have written my paraphrase. Now I am going to compare it to the original just to make sure I have, in fact, created an effective paraphrase. And that is step four, you are going to look for borrowed phrasing, am I too close to the original? Then of course, even if you have paraphrased it completely in to your own words, we still need to give credit to that original author.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 1: Paraphrasing

“There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It's the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.” (American Heart Association, 2014, para. 1)

Thesis: Walking a few times a week is a useful exercise for combating obesity in small communities.

Choose one piece of information, idea, or fact that you could use from this quote to support our thesis.

Write a paraphrase, sharing in the Chat Box.

Audio: So, we’re going to do another little activity, and keeping in mind our thesis of walking a few times a week can be useful exercise for combating obesity in small communities, take this quotation that we have from the American Heart Association and paraphrase it so that you think it could help support the thesis. "There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It's the simplest Positive change you can make to effectively improve your health." This is going to take probably a little bit longer so I am going to give you one minute to fill out your answers in the chat box.

[pause as students type]

These are some great paraphrases. And one thing I want to point out is that we have a lot of different paraphrases, right? You guys have taken this same quotation and you’ve put it in your own words so naturally it means they are going to be different than what your colleagues are writing in the chat box, as well. We just want to make sure, as long as we are staying true to this original idea of the quotation, we are not taking it out of context, we are not trying to make the American Heart Association say something it actually didn’t say, that we are doing a nice job of paraphrasing.

So, in the interest of time, I’m going to move on, thank you so much for putting your information in the chat box. We are going to have another few opportunities to do that to.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 1: Paraphrasing

“There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It's the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.” (American Heart Association, 2014, para. 1)

Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term (American Heart Association, 2014).

People can easily improve their heart health by walking (American Heart Association, 2014).

Although people can improve their physical fitness in many ways, one easy improvement that the American Heart Association (2014) reported people persist in the most is walking.

Audio: Before we get in to some of the effective paraphrases which are probably going to be similar to what you guys wrote in the chat box, I want you to consider this. If I am trying to paraphrase this and I write something like this, "There are a lot of exercises out there, but walking has the smallest dropout rate of them all. It's the easiest good change you can make to properly develop your heart health." Right? I have changed some of the words. And this is probably an over exaggeration of what I sometimes see, or it definitely is an over exaggeration. But you can see how that is not really paraphrasing. I've replaced some of the words with synonyms, but I haven't actually taken that information and I haven't made my cake. Right? That's still pretty obviously the original ingredient. That's not a very good effective paraphrase.

Here's some good paraphrasing:  "Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term." I think I saw a few of you writing something similar. "People can easily improve their heart health by walking." And, "Although people can improve their physical fitness in many ways, one easy improvement the American Heart Association reported people persist in the most is walking." You can kind of decide based on what your specific goal is with your paper, your paraphrase might come across differently.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 1: Paraphrasing: Multiple Sources

            Repeat the process of paraphrasing for multiple sources and ideas

            Synthesis results from discussing these paraphrases from multiple sources together

  1. Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term (American Heart Association, 2014).
  2. However, in the small Wisconsin communities she surveyed, Prince (2013) found that community leaders usually recommend group physical activities that result in short-term weight loss.

Audio: So, the next step is synthesizing. First you paraphrase your information, but often times, and for really effective academic writing, you're going to be taking multiple sources, you're going to be paraphrasing them so that they best suit your own paper, so that they best fit your own voice. And then you're going to be putting those different sources together. That's the mixing the ingredients to make your cake.

You're going to repeat the process of paraphrasing for multiple sources and ideas. Then you're going to use those paraphrases to, put these different sources into a discussion.

So here we have our original paraphrase, or one of our original paraphrases. "Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term." So, I read that American Heart Association article, but then I also read this article by Prince. According to Prince, I have this paraphrase: "However, in the small Wisconsin communities she surveyed, Prince found that community leaders usually recommend group physical activities that result in short-term weight loss."

I have put both of these pieces of information in my own words and now I have to put then into a discussion with each other. So, that’s where this "however" comes in to play. I think these transition words are also really important because those are allowing your reader to see how exactly you are putting these sources together. I am not saying, of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term and in small communities Prince found that community leaders recommend group physical activities because Princes argument saying something that is not necessarily contradicting, but is presenting an argument against what the AHA has said. So, I use that "however" to show that in the discussion, that's how these two are interacting with each other.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 2: Analysis

(A) Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term (American Heart Association, 2014).

---

(B) However, in the small Wisconsin communities she surveyed, Prince  (2013) found that community leaders usually recommend group physical activities that result in short-term weight loss.

            Answer the “so what?” question:

  • Why is this information important?
  • What does it mean?
  • Why should we care about this information?
  • What does this information show or tell us?

Audio: The second step of synthesis is to analyze. You are going to answer the "so what?" question. You're going to think to yourself, why is this information important? What does it mean and why should we care about this information? What does the information show or tell us? You want the information to be meaningful. You want it to have something relevant to our thesis statement that you are trying to argue. And so again, have these two different examples that we just combined and we want to consider all these different pieces.

I have this potential argument of one source is saying that walking, people continue walking and so, it's a great way to get physical exercise. Then I have this other source that is saying, "Group activities are better for small communities." So, we want to think about, what has this created and is it important?

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat box appears

Consider our “so what” questions. Give possible answers of analysis in the Chat Box.

Audio: So, given those two paraphrases, consider why this is maybe important, what it means. Why we should care about it and what it shows or tells us. You are going to answer the "so what" question. I am going to give you a few minutes to do that.

[pause as students type]

I am seeing a lot of answers and they are a little bit different, some of them, from each other. But what I am not seeing is anybody saying that this doesn't matter. That's a really good sign. We have two pieces of information and I think we can understand there is some "so what." Then we can get in some more of that analysis. And I’ve seen a few people talk about how it helps put it into context of how different situations. So, a small community might be different than a large community. I saw someone write in about specific amenities that might be necessary. Maybe small communities don’t not have the same types of walking paths or the same times of facilities that a larger area might have. Its asking us to consider all of the different aspects of different physical activity. Thank you for participating.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 2: Analysis

Paraphrase:

Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term (American Heart Association, 2014). However, in the small Wisconsin communities she surveyed, Prince (2013) found that community leaders usually recommend group physical activities that result in short-term weight loss.

Analysis:

Thus, community leaders are not following evidence-based methods when they suggest fitness methods that the citizens are less likely to continue.

Audio: So, we have that paraphrase originally, that's how we put those two things together.  And our analysis, this is what some of you wrote in the chat bot, thus community leaders are not following evidence-based methods when they suggest fitness methods that the citizens are likely to continue. That’s going to be my new argument, that’s going to be what I take out of these two separate pieces of information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Synthesis Step 3: Conclusion

Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term (American Heart Association, 2014). However, in the small Wisconsin communities she surveyed, Prince (2013) found that community leaders usually recommend group physical activities that result in short-term weight loss. Thus, community leaders are not following evidence-based methods when they suggest fitness methods that the citizens are less likely to continue.

Answer the broader “so what?” question:

  • What point do you want to make about this information/analysis?
  • What idea should the reader walk away from these sentences knowing?
  • What broader conclusion or implication does this information have?

Audio: Then you want to get into the conclusion. You have asked the "so what" question specifically, but now you need to ask that more broad, more general question, "So what?"

What point do you want to make about this information and analysis? What idea should the reader walk away from these sentences knowing? What broader conclusion or implication does this information have?

So, we have these two pieces or these two resources we have put into discussion, we have created our own argument that community leaders are not looking at evidence-based methods. Now we have to consider what I, want to say, what the writer wants to say, based on that information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat box

Give possible answers of conclusion in the Chat Box in response to our (1) paraphrasing and (2) analysis.

Audio: We are going to do another quick chat. Considering what we have here, what might my concluding sentence be? What might the broader take away be from this analysis that we've done out of these two paraphrases?

[pause as students type]

This is really tricky, I think this is probably the hardest step of synthesis. One thing you might want to consider is what was our original thesis? Original thesis was talking about walking a few times a week as a way to combat obesity in small communities. So, remembering that that's our main goal, that’s our main purpose, what might the final conclusion be? What might be how you clarify the "so what?" of all of this information that you have just presented?

[pause as students type]

Nice job. Again, we've got some different options here because we might have different goals based on what the assignment is, based on what our own argument is about walking. So, awesome job. I like I said, I think this is probably, at least for me, the trickiest part of synthesis. You guys are doing it on the fly and that’s very impressive. Awesome job.

 

Visual: Side changes to the following: Synthesis Step 3: Conclusion

            Paraphrase:

Of all the ways you can get physical exercise, walking is one that people continue long-term (American Heart Association, 2014). However, in the small Wisconsin communities she surveyed, Prince (2013) found that community leaders usually recommend group physical activities that result in short-term weight loss.

Analysis:

Thus, community leaders are not following evidence-based methods when they suggest fitness methods that the citizens are less likely to continue.

Conclusion:

Instead, community leaders should encourage walking programs instead of group activities with citizens’ long-term benefits instead of short-term weight loss in mind.

Audio: Here we have our three steps:  our paraphrase was coming at the top, we’ve given our analysis, then the one possible conclusion might be, "Instead, community leaders should encourage walking programs instead of group activities with citizens' long-term benefits instead of short-term weight loss in mind." I think I saw a few of you pretty much write that. Basically. we are looking at these two pieces of evidence that have let us see that community leaders are not using evidence-based methods and this is our suggestion or this is what we want our readers to understand based on all the information that was given.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Common Instructor and Writing Center Feedback

“Too much opinion!”

“Not enough analysis!”

“I don’t care what you think!”

“I don’t care what you feel!”

Podcast Episodes:

“What to Do with Negative Feedback on Your Writing”

“5 Tips for Using Writing Feedback”

Audio: So, like I said, I think synthesis in thesis writing is very tricky. Often times, that's something you get feedback on from either the Writing Center or from a faculty member, an instructor.

So, they might not be worded exactly like this, but this is sometimes how that feedback can sound, at least to me, this is sometimes how it might sound. That there's “too much opinion”, there's “not enough analysis”,  “I don't care what you think”,  “I don't care what you feel”. This can seem kind of harsh, but there are important things to think about when you are producing academic writing.

So, we have some great podcast episodes that you can listen to and we also have transcripts available if you want to just read them. But we have these What to Do with Negative Feedback on Your Writing and 5 Tips for Using Writing Feedback. It can be kind of scary sometimes to ask for feedback if we are not sure we know exactly what we are doing or we’re worried about how someone is going to talk about our writing. So, we get the potentially negative feedback that can be potentially negative to take. So, we have created these podcasts to kind of help you work through that, how to make that feedback helpful for you rather than potentially [inaudible].

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoiding Common Instructor and Writing Center Feedback

            DON’T:  “I think…” or “I feel…” statements.

            I think walking could benefit many people struggling with their health.

DON’T:  Include just analysis or evidence.

Academic writing is evidence-based, meaning all ideas are supported by sources.

            DON’T:

Include just sources.

Your job is to explain to the reader what the information means and why it matters.

Audio: These are some very common pieces of feedback that you might receive. Don't say "I think" or "I feel" in your academic writing. Instead, you can just take that out. Instead of saying "I think walking could benefit many people struggling with their health," I could just write "Walking could benefit many people struggling with their health." It's clear that this is what I think, because I'm the one whose writing it. If you think about references and citations and why they are so important, this is an example of why. That "I think" or that "I feel" statement is implied by the fact I am not citing anybody else. That this is my own paper and that I’m presenting this idea.

Another common piece of feedback is to include only analysis or only evidence. That they’re both two important pieces of academic writing. So, academic writing is evidence-based, meaning that all of your ideas need to be supported by sources. But you still need those ideas. Your paper shouldn't be completely filled with quotes or paraphrases from other peoples' writing. But it also shouldn't just be your own thoughts or ideas. Because then it can seem like they're just opinions. It can seem like you don't have any research to back it up. So, and then, again, don't include just sources.

When you're putting that paraphrase or if you decide to use a direct quotation into your paper, you do need to explain what that information is doing for your argument. You want your reader to understand why you've chosen to included that piece of information, and why it's important for the argument that you are trying to make.

 

Visual: Slide Changes to the following: More Resources

Practical Skills webinars:

“Writing Strong Thesis Statements” and “Paraphrasing Source Information

            Thesis Construction page

            Synthesis page

            “Argue is Not a Dirty Word” blog post

Audio: So, we have a lot of different resources. We have writing strong thesis statements and Paraphrasing Source Information. These are some webinars you can check out in the archive or look to see if they are coming up. We have a Thesis Construction page, that's a webpage that is full of different resources for constructing effective thesis. We also have a synthesis page. Then we have this blog post, I love this blog post, I think it's a really funny one. It's called Argue Is Not a Dirty Word. I think it's talking about how, that misconception between including, I think, I feel statements, trying to avoid sounding bias, sometimes people are concerned if I can't sound biased, then I can't argue. This podcast discusses some of that concern.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions:

Now: Let us know!    ·          Anytime: writingsupport@waldenu.edu

            Continue the conversation on Twitter with #wcwebinars

            Learn more about synthesis and thesis statements:

Check out the recorded webinars “Beyond Summary: Adding Analysis & Synthesis to Your Writing.”

Audio: We do have time for questions. I want to point out that there is the writingsupport@waldenu.edu email address. So, if you are watching the recording and you have a question or if you come up with a question after the webinar is over, or if you would rather have a response in an email form that you can look back at, that's a great resource for you. Then you might also check out another webinar called Beyond Summary:  Adding Analysis and Synthesis to Your Writing. Again, helping you avoid those pieces of feedback that either you're only including sources or you're not providing enough information about why these resources are so important. Which like I said, I think that's always the most difficult part for me. So, Michael, did we have any questions come in in the question box [indiscernible]

Michael:  Yeah, great job, Kacy. One question I think the group can maybe benefit from would be regarding the MEAL plan paragraph structure. Would you mind talking a bit about how synthesis can fit within the MEAL plan paragraph structure?

Kacy:  That's a great question and I am glad you brought that up because I didn't get a chance to talk about the MEAL plan.

The MEAL plan is this kind of mnemonic device that we use to help us remember all of the really important parts of an academic paragraph. We have a Main idea, which is that topic sentence, that introduction to what this new idea is. We have Evidence, so that's where your paraphrase is going to come in. Your Analysis, so again, we have those two pieces of information that we paraphrased from different sources, and then we wanted to make sure that we included some kind of, our own thoughts. Then, the L stands for Lead out. I think you can look at that in a couple different ways. That Lead out, if it’s depending on where that paragraph is appearing in your paper, it's probably going to be that kind of, what that main idea is from that paragraph and how it fits in to whatever you're going to say next. That kind of transition statement. But you want to make sure, with your Analysis part, you are giving that really clear conclusion. The bigger "so what," the why this matters for this paper as a whole. That can depending again, depending on where it is in your paper, can be that Lead out. Reminding your reader what the bigger argument is, bringing back all that great information so it connects really clearly to your thesis. Again, bringing you in to the larger topics, so if you are in to the body paragraph you can move on to another main idea that is going to support that larger thesis. That's how the MEAL plan works. Do you have anything to add to that? 

Michael:  Actually, I think you did a pretty good job of explaining that. That's really the way we think about the MEAL plan and incorporating synthesis as well. Cool. Other than that, I think we're pretty good in terms of questions that everyone can benefit from.

I'd like to say thank you everyone for coming and participating in this webinar today. With that, we are going to conclude, so have a great day.