Synthesis Essay Reminders

Synthesis Essay Reminders
 Don’t spend too long [more than 25 min!] reading, evaluating sources, and planning. Read quickly, look
at the citations, fill out your charts, and move on. No detailed annotation. Brief notes only.
 Use appropriate planning. Using a spectrum and a credibility chart is a good idea for agree/disagree/qualify
prompts like the advertising one. If you get a museum or space-type prompt that asks for the most important
issues, make a list of issues and which sources mention the same issues.
 Don’t be hyper critical. Excerpts from books may not include citations for sources (as they may be in the
footnotes, which aren’t included in the excerpt). Even iffy or questionable sources can be useful if you are
careful. They can be used to establish counterarguments, or can be used to support your points if you are sure
to acknowledge the problems (bias, date, etc.) that exist but don’t affect the evidence or basic ideas you are
drawing from the source.
 Think of useful outside information. It must be specific and relevant. Try to avoid personal evidence, which
is not likely to be convincing.
 Make sure a pro/con thesis qualifies in some way, but makes clear what it is you will argue. Be specific.
Don’t just say “the pros outweigh the cons.” Give us some idea what the pros/cons are. We don’t need all your
evidence or points listed in the thesis, but give us the gist.
 Make some sort of outline to keep yourself on track.
 Keep the intro short. Establish the complexity of the issue in a sentence or two, and then write your thesis.
 Use topic sentences that tie back to your thesis. Don’t summarize sources, and don’t let them take over your
paper. There should be more of your writing than quoted material.
 Don’t evaluate sources in the paper unless it is necessary to justify using a problematic source.
 Don’t tell me what a quotation means. Explain how it proves your claim.
 CITE your sources.
 Make sure you are quoting and interpreting accurately
 Try to avoid quoting from only one source per paragraph. That can lead to summary.
 Anticipate and deal with counterarguments.
 Say “sources,” ladies and gentlemen, not “documents.” This is not APUSH. Switch gears. (And quote!)