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Difference Between Synthesis And Argument Essay

Wri Synthesis Essays

What is synthesis?

When you synthesize two or more texts in an essay, you find connections between the texts.  You create a dialogue of sorts between the texts, showing how they �speak� to each other.

What is the purpose of synthesis?

Synthesis is a common academic exercise.  When you synthesize texts, you come to a new or deeper understanding of those texts and the ideas within them.  When you look at the ideas in one text alone, you focus only on your interpretation of that particular author�s ideas.  When you open your analysis up to two or more texts, you can see the ideas in a new light by looking at how multiple authors complement and/or contradict each other.

How is synthesis different from compare and contrast?

In some ways, these two activities are similar.  But think of synthesis as going beyond compare and contrast; in general, it is a more complex intellectual task.  Instead of looking at two separate things and finding similarities or differences, you focus on how these two things (texts, in this case) actually work together to create a deeper understanding of a theme or idea.

How should I organize a synthesis essay?

Because you want to show a strong connection between the texts and maintain that throughout your essay, I would encourage you to follow the general organizational pattern below.  Notice that you�re going back and forth, from one text to the other, so that connection is always there.

I.                    Introduction (introduce theme, texts, thesis statement)

II.                 First point about the theme

A.     Text #1�s perspective on/treatment of that theme

B.     Text #2�s perspective on/treatment of that theme

III.               Second point about the theme

A.     Text #1�s perspective on/treatment of that theme

B.     Text #2�s perspective on/treatment of that theme

IV.              Conclusion

Important additions:

  • You may choose to focus on more than two points.  The number of points you develop should be dictated by the content of your thesis, not by a formula.  Because of this, the number of points in each essay will vary from student to student.
  • Depending on the complexity of your suppor points, you may choose to write a paragraph that introduces the point in general, then follow with a separate paragraph for each text that develops the point.
  • Again, depending on the complexity and number of your suppor points, you may choose to write a paragraph that introduces the point in general, then follow that with a paragraph (or paragraphs) that refer to both texts (in the same paragraph).

Sample synthesis thesis statements:

�       In The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston challenges the controlling image of the lotus blossom as introduced by Yen Le Esperitu in �Ideological Racism and Cultural Resistance.�

�       George Orwell, in his classic essay, �Shoo an Elephant,� describes how, as a police officer for the British Imperial government, he acted against his own desires to salvage his pride.  In �Just Walk On By� Brent Staples reveals how, as a black man, he has come to change his behavior because white people are uncomfortable with his presence.  In critically examining these two essays together, it becomes clear that both Orwell and Staples understand that most behavior is motivated by concerns for how others view or judge us. 

The terms of summary and synthesis are felt in common language as synonyms.

Actually, there are important differences between a summary and a synthesis.

The differences are:

  1. the number of texts (sources) taken into consideration.
  2. the way these texts (sources) are then interpreted.

A summary is an objective, short written presentation in your own words of ideas, facts, events, in a SINGLE PIECE OF TEXT.

Example:A summary of a text describing the African Lion

Asynthesis is a “combination” of SEVERAL TEXTSinto a single one, which aims to create an understanding or original perspective of the information in those texts.

Be aware that there are many types of synthesis, shown in examples below.

Review Synthesis = a presentation of ideas in texts treating the same subjects.

Example: An essay about African Big Cats


Explanatory Synthesis = a particular theme in several texts in the same area.

Example: An essay about behaviors of African Big Cats


Argumentative Synthesis = a selection of ideas in several texts, with aim to argument a certain point of view or your own point of view.

Example: Preservation of Big Cats in Africa – a duty of humanity


Illustration synthesis = ideas supporting your point of view, from several texts.

Example: Personalities pledging for Big Cats’ preservation in Africa


Concession synthesis = differing views that make stronger your point of view

Example: Big Cats hunting – a solution for species preservation?


Comparison synthesis = different views on a subject, presented with aim to highlight the most important aspects related to that subject.

Example: Big cats preservation – Mistakes and accomplishments