Writing About My Synthesis
The final step after you've read an article, understood new concepts, and synthesized them is to share your new ideas. It can be helpful to keep track of your thoughts with a synthesis matrix. Watch this video on writing about your synthesis, and then complete the synthesis matrix activity.
Synthesizing Your Ideas
- To combine what the experts are saying with what you already know
- To offer your own ideas
As you enter into your program of study, one thing you'll find is that your professors want to know what YOU think. The professor has done the reading and knows what the experts are saying about a topic, but what ideas do you bring to the table? This is where synthesis comes in.
When we synthesize, we think about what we already know. How did a reading add to or change your previous ideas? Did it remind you of anything? We combine what experts say with what we already know.
Synthesis is also used to offer our own ideas. A reading may support something you already knew about. It could add to your prior knowledge. When we read for knowledge we are impacting our own ideas and growing our understanding of a topic.
- Breaking ideas into pieces
- Helpful for understanding individual concepts in an article
Often when reading for knowledge, we analyze ideas or break them into pieces. This makes it easier to understand individual concepts in an article, especially if it's very complicated.
When you analyze an article, you might ask what messages the author is trying to send or what the author's purpose is. You might look at where the author found their information and how they back up their ideas.
Breaking ideas apart is great, but you also need to bring them together with other ideas.
Analysis pulled the pieces apart → Synthesis puts the pieces together
- What else do you know about this topic?
- Can you add to the ideas in the article?
We do this through synthesis. As analysis pulls pieces apart, synthesis brings them together. As you synthesize, think about what you know about the topic. What prior knowledge did you have before reading? Did you learn something similar in another class? Have you heard people talking about the topic? Can you add anything to the ideas from the article?
This is a synthesis matrix. It's a simple table that can help you organize your ideas and see where your ideas and the ideas from an article come together. To complete the synthesis matrix, first fill concepts about this topic under "Concept #1", "Concept #2", and "Concept #3". If an article is complicated, you may have more than 3 ideas. In that case, go ahead and add more columns as needed. Next, add your ideas about each concept, and then add the writer's ideas from the article. Do you see them overlapping? If so, where? If not, why do you think the ideas are different? Ideas do not need to be the same, and this matrix can show you where ideas are coming together or not.
This activity asks you to read three passages and then synthesize them:
Source: Excelsior Online Writing Lab, https://owl.excelsior.edu/orc/what-to-do-after-reading/synthesizing/synthesizing-activity-2/, and Saylor Academy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.