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Evidence-Based Arguments: Synthesis

Paraphrasing and Synthesis

Synthesis is important in scholarly writing as it is the combination of ideas on a given topic or subject area. Synthesis is different from summary. Summary consists of a brief description of one idea, piece of text, etc. Synthesis involves combining ideas together.

Summary: Overview of important general information in your own words and sentence structure.

Paraphrase: Articulation of a specific passage or idea in your own words and sentence structure.

Synthesis: New interpretation of summarized or paraphrased details in your own words and sentence structure.

In the capstone, writers should aim for synthesis in all areas of the document, especially the literature review. Synthesis combines paraphrased information, where the writer presents information from multiple sources. Synthesis demonstrates scholarship; it demonstrates an understanding of the literature and information, as well as the writer’s ability to connect ideas and develop an argument.

Example Paraphrase

From Allan and Zed (2012, p. 195)

Supervision, one practice in transactional leadership theory, is especially effective for small business owners. Improved retention not only contributes to an efficient workplace, but it promotes local commercial stability and cultural unity. Other management styles informed by transactional theory can also benefit communities.

Sample Paraphrase

Allan and Zed (2012) noted that supervision and other transactional leadership strategies provide advantages for small business owners and their surrounding communities.

This paraphrase DOES:

  • include the main idea,
  • summarize the key information using fewer words than the original text, and
  • include a citation to credit the source.

Synthesis Language

Synthesis is achieved by comparing and contrasting paraphrased information on a given topic. Discussions of the literature should be focused not on study-by-study summaries (see the Creating a Literature Review Outline SMRTguide). Writers should begin by using comparison language (indicated in bold and highlighted text in the examples below) to combine ideas on a given topic:

  • Keller (2012) found that X occurred. Likewise, Daal (2013) found that X occurred but also noted that the effects of X differed from those suggested by Keller (2012).
  • Schwester (2013) reported results consistent with findings in Hill’s (2011) and Yao’s (2012) studies.
  • Although Mehmad (2012) suggested X, O’Donnell (2013) recommended a different approach.

Again, the focus of synthesis is to combine ideas on a given topic and for the writer to use that to review the existing literature or support an overall argument (i.e., in the problem statement, rationale and justification for the method, etc.).

For more information and examples on synthesis, paragraph structure, and the MEAL Plan strategy for writing review additional Form and Style resources: