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Academic Synthesis

 What is synthesis?

Synthesis is a key feature of analytical academic writing. It is the skill of being able to combine a number of sources in a clause, paragraph or text to either support an argument or refute it. We also synthesise sources to be able to compare and contrast ideas and to further expand on a point. It is important that the writer shows the reader that they have researched the subject matter extensively in order to not only demonstrate how a variety of sources can agree or disagree but also to present more balanced arguments.

Academic Synthesis Video

A short 8-minute video on what synthesis is.

PDF Lesson Download

 

 Academic Synthesis: synthesising sources [new 2021]

This lesson is designed to support students in their understanding and use of synthesising sources. It includes noticing the use of sources in context, a language focus with examples, two guided writing practice activities, a freer practice paragraph writing task with model answer and teacher’s notes – see worksheet example. Time: 120mins.  Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]  TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Paragraph example of synthesis

Look at this paragraph containing synthesised sources. Highlight the citations / in-text references and their corresponding point made.

 

Coursework versus examination assessment

Using assignment essays for assessment supports learning better than the traditional examination system. It is considered that course-work assignment essays can lessen the extreme stress experienced by some students over ‘sudden death’ end of semester examinations and reduce the failure rate (Langdon, 2016). Study skills research by Peters et al. (2018) support assessment by assignment because research assignments can be used to assess student learning mid-course and so provide them with helpful feedback. They also consider that assignment work lends itself to more critical approaches which help the students to learn the discourse of their subjects. In contrast, Abbot (2008) and Cane (2018) both argue that assignments are inefficient, costly to manage and are the cause of plagiarism problems in universities. A key argument is that “assessment by examination is a clean-cut approach as you obtain students’ knowledge under supervised circumstances” (Bable, 2008, p.20). The weight of evidence, however, would suggest that it is a fairer and more balanced approach to have some assessment by assignment rather than completely by examinations.

Coursework versus examination assessment

Using assignment essays for assessment supports learning better than the traditional examination system. It is considered that course-work assignment essays can lessen the extreme stress experienced by some students over ‘sudden death’ end of semester examinations and reduce the failure rate (Langdon, 2016). Study skills research by Peters et al. (2018) support assessment by assignment because research assignments can be used to assess student learning mid-course and so provide them with helpful feedback. They also consider that assignment work lends itself to more critical approaches which help the students to learn the discourse of their subjects. In contrast, Abbot (2008) and Cane (2018) both argue that assignments are inefficient, costly to manage and are the cause of plagiarism problems in universities. A key argument is that “assessment by examination is a clean-cut approach as you obtain students’ knowledge under supervised circumstances” (Bable, 2008, p.20). The weight of evidence, however, would suggest that it is a fairer and more balanced approach to have some assessment by assignment rather than completely by examinations.

Language Focus

Example 1

The writer synthesises two sources to be able to support their argument for assignment examinations.

It is considered that course-work assignment essays can lessen the extreme stress experienced by some students over ‘sudden death’ end of semester examinations and reduce the failure rate (Langdon, 2016). Study skills research by Peters et al. (2018) support assessment by assignment because research assignments can be used to assess student learning mid-course and so provide them with helpful feedback.

Example 2

The writer synthesises two connected sources to be show the opposing views to assignment based examinations.

In contrast, Abbot (2008) and Cane (2018) both argue that assignments are inefficient, costly to manage and are the cause of plagiarism problems in universities.

Example 3

The writer synthesises another relevant source through quotation to further support the point  against assignment-based examinations.

A key argument is that “assessment by examination is a clean-cut approach as you obtain students’ knowledge under supervised circumstances” (Bable, 2008, p.20).

Example 4

The writer could synthesise a number of sources together to show they have applied comprehensive academic research into the topic.

Study skills research by Jones et al. (2010), UCL (2016), Wilson (2017) and Peters (2018) support assessment by assignment because research assignments can be used to assess student learning mid-course and so provide them with helpful feedback.

or

Study skills research supports assessment by assignment because research assignments can be used to assess student learning mid-course and so provide them with helpful feedback (Jones et al., 2010; UCL, 2016; Wilson, 2017 & Peters, 2018).

Integral and non-integral referencing

When synthesising sources, it is important to incorporate and reference them accurately. This can be done in two ways:

  1. Integral citations are where the author is the main subject of clause and only the year is placed in brackets. A reporting verb (argue, claim, suggest etc.) is required to introduce the rest of the clause.

Type of citation

Example

Integral

Jones (2021) states that the cost of the global pandemic could be almost as much as £400 billion to the UK.

2. In non-integral citations, both the author and year is stated in parenthesis at the end of a clause. There must also be a comma separating the name and year.

Type of citation

Example

Non-integral

It is believed that the cost of the global pandemic could be almost as much as £400 billion to the UK (Jones, 2021).

Synthesis Practice

Exercise 1

•Using the information in the table, practise synthesis using the prompts to help you.
•Don’t forget to paraphrase the points, use accurate in-text citation (integral or non-integral) and the correct transition words.
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Johnson (2018)

Williams (2019)

Prompt

The main goal of the World Bank is to reduce poverty and foster economic growth in developing countries.      


There has been an increase in the level of poverty in Africa.                                      

                                                 

   Counter-argue                   



Suggested answer

Although the main goal of the World Bank is to reduce poverty and foster economic growth in developing countries (Johnson, 2018), Williams (2019) highlights that there has been an increase in the level of poverty in Africa.

 

For a detailed worksheet and more exercises – buy the download below.

Exercise 2

•Using the information in the table, practise synthesis using the prompts to help you.
•Don’t forget to paraphrase the points, use accurate in-text citation (integral or non-integral) and the correct transition words.
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Arnold (2019)

James (2020)

Prompt

The decline of printed newspapers is due to increased online activity overall.                


The more time we spend online, the more likely we are to use search engines and blogs for news.

          

Support                   


Suggested answer

Arnold (2019) asserts that the decline of printed newspapers is mainly due to increased online activity overall. As we spend more time on the Internet in general than we did ten years previously, the more likely we are to search for news stories through search engines or blogs (James, 2020).

 

For a detailed worksheet and more exercises – buy the download below.

Academic Synthesis Download

 

 Academic Synthesis: synthesising sources [new 2021]

This lesson is designed to support students in their understanding and use of synthesising sources. It includes noticing the use of sources in context, a language focus with examples, two guided writing practice activities, a freer practice paragraph writing task with model answer and teacher’s notes – see worksheet example. Time: 120mins.  Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]  TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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More referencing downloads

Referencing Guide: Harvard

 This is a basic reference guide to citing and creating a reference list or a bibliography. It shows the correct way to create in-text citations and reference lists for books, journals, online newspapers and websites.  Web page link. TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

Free Download

Referencing Guide: APA 7th Edition

 This is a basic reference guide to citing and creating a reference list or a bibliography. It shows the correct way to create in-text citations and reference lists for books, journals, online newspapers and websites.  Web page link. TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

Free Download

 

Referencing: Harvard Referencing Worksheet 1 [updated 2021]

Two part worksheet that is a paragraph and reference list.  Students have to put in the correct in-text reference. The second part is a reference list exercise where students have to put the sections in the correct order. A nice lesson to introduce students to referencing and becoming aware of key referencing principles.  Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]  Example  / Webpage link / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

Referencing: Harvard Referencing Worksheet 2 [new for 2021]

This lesson supports students in their understanding and use of Harvard referencing. It contains six worksheets: a discussion on referencing, a noticing activity, a reordering task, an error identification exercise, a sentence completion task, a gap-fill activity and a reference list task.   Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]  Example  / Webpage link / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

Referencing: APA 7th Edition Referencing Worksheet 1 [updated 2021]

Two part worksheet that is a paragraph and reference list. Students have to put in the correct in-text reference. The second part is a reference list exercise where students have to put the sections in the correct order. A nice lesson to introduce students to referencing and becoming aware of key referencing principles.  Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]   Example  / Webpage link  / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Referencing: APA 7th Edition Referencing Worksheet [new for 2021]

This lesson supports students in their understanding and use of APA referencing. It contains six worksheets: a discussion on referencing, a noticing activity, a reordering task, an error identification exercise, a sentence completion task, a gap-fill activity and a reference list task. Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]   Example  / Webpage link  / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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How to use www.citethisforme.com [new for 2021]

This lesson is an introduction to using the online reference generator: www.citethisforme.com. It begins by providing a step-by-step guide to using the application and its many functions. The lesson is a task-based activity where students use the reference generator to create bibliography citations. Worksheet example Time: 60mins.  Level ***** [B1/B2/C1] / Video / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Paraphrasing Lesson – how to paraphrase effectively

 It starts by discussing the differences between quotation, paraphrase and summary. It takes students through the basics of identifying keywords, finding synonyms and then changing the grammatical structure. There is plenty of practice, all with efficient teacher’s notes. Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]  Example / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Paraphrasing Lesson 2 – improve your paraphrasing skills [new for 2021]

This lesson helps students to improve their paraphrasing skills. The guided learning approach includes a text analysis activity where students identify the paraphrasing strategies, five sentence-level tasks to practise the strategies and two paragraph-level exercises to build on the previous tasks.. Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]  Example / TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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    Writing a paragraph – using quotes about smoking

Students are given a worksheet with nine quotes taken from The New Scientist, BBC News, The Economist, etc… and choose only three. They use these three quotes to write a paragraph trying to paraphrase the quotes and produce a cohesion piece of writing. Level ***** [B1/B2/C1]   Example/ TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

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Reporting Verbs 

 Use the verbs in the box to put into the sentences on the worksheet. Each sentence has a description of the type of verb needed. Check the grammar of the verb too! Web page link. TEACHER MEMBERSHIP / INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP

Free Download

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