How to write a synthesis essay

Synthesis essay is a challenging form of academic writing in which you combine multiple sources into a coherent and persuasive argument.

When writing one, better follow a series of basic steps that we will explain in the next paragraphs to write a great essay.

So let’s quickly start learning how to write a great synthesis essay.

Quick summary

Synthesis essay definition

Your primary goal with a synthesis essay is to provide a unique perspective, supported by evidence. For example, suppose you have two distinct essays or research papers on “excessive social media usage” and “the effects of social media on psychology.”

In your synthesis essay, you can blend these two sources into a cohesive argument like “the psychological impacts of excessive social media usage on individuals.”

Synthesis essay introduction

The introduction is the opening paragraph of a synthesis essay, where you present the topic and provide background information. Like a usual introduction, it should not be more than 10% of your essay.

Now let’s have a look at the introduction example below. 

Synthesis essay introduction example

Introduction

In an era dominated by rapid technological advancements, the digital landscape has revolutionized the way we interact, communicate, and build relationships. Hook sentence: You try to grab the reader's attention with an opening sentence. As technology permeates every aspect of our lives, it brings both benefits and challenges to the realm of human connection and social relationships. Background: You give a bit background to your topic. While it promises greater convenience and connectivity, it also raises concerns about the erosion of genuine human interaction. Thesis statement: This is the main argument of your essay. This essay examines the multifaceted impact of technology on human relationships, exploring the ways it enhances communication, creates virtual communities, and underscores the importance of balancing screen time with real-world connections. Signposting:You showcase what you'll include in your essay as a guide to the reader. (optional)

Body paragraphs

The body paragraphs form the core of the synthesis essay. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the argument and present evidence and analysis from the sources to support the thesis statement. When writing body paragraphs: 

Let’s have a look at a body paragraph example.

Synthesis essay body paragraph example

Technological innovations have undoubtedly transformed the way we communicate with one another. Topic sentence: It sets the focus of your paragraph. The rise of instant messaging, video calls, and social media platforms has made connecting with loved ones across the globe more accessible and efficient. These tools have bridged geographical gaps, enabling us to maintain relationships that might have otherwise withered away. Additionally, virtual communication has empowered introverted individuals to express themselves freely and foster meaningful connections online. Analysis: You present your analysis and evidence regarding the topic. However, it is essential to recognize that digital interactions may lack the depth and nuance of face-to-face communication, leading to potential misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Discussion &Insights: You introduce your stance.

Synthesis essay conclusion

The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay. A compelling conclusion leaves a lasting impact on the reader, reinforcing the essay’s main message. 

Let’s have a look at the components of a conclusion paragraph below. 

Synthesis essay conclusion example

After all, the impact of technology on human connection and social relationships is a complex interplay of advantages and challenges. Restatement, Summary: Restate your thesis statement so reader remembers your main point. Technology has enabled us to transcend geographical barriers, enhancing communication and creating virtual communities that offer support and belonging. Highlight: Positive impacts of tech. However, we must be cautious not to allow technology to replace genuine face-to-face interactions, as excessive screen time can lead to social isolation and loneliness. Highlight: Potential downfalls of the technology. By navigating this digital landscape with mindfulness and balance, we can harness the power of technology while preserving the essence of authentic human connections. Suggestion: Potential downfalls of the technology. In doing so, we can build a world where technology complements, rather than supplants, our ability to form meaningful and enduring relationships. Call to action: Conclude with a vision or CTA for future.

Now that we’ve seen a short example of synthesis essay, let’s continue with the steps to write a great one.

Steps on writing a synthesis essay

In this section, we’ll guide you through the writing process with each steps explained in detail and examples. 

steps of synthesis essay

Step 1 - Understand your assignment

First, you must carefully analyze the essay prompt (assignment instructions), identifying the core concepts and keywords that provide direction. Once you understand the prompt, it is crucial to gather an extensive range of sources, such as academic papers, articles, and books. By gathering diverse sources, you can create a comprehensive and well-supported synthesis.

Example of a synthesis essay assignment

  1. Investigate the impact of artificial intelligence on the job market and society.

  2. Synthesize at least three different sources, including academic articles, news reports, and opinion pieces, to discuss the benefits and challenges posed by AI's integration into various industries.

  3. Consider the ethical implications, potential job displacement, and the role of policymakers in addressing these changes.

  4. Use correct APA 7 citation format and make sure the essay is at least 1000 words.

So you see an example above, take some time to carefully review the prompt, and give particular attention to the formatting requirements. 

Step 2 - Read and annotate the sources

After finding relevant sources, read each one critically by highlighting key ideas and arguments. Annotating sources with concise summaries and evaluative comments helps in later stages of the essay writing process.

Step 3 - Draft a thesis statement

A well-crafted thesis statement forms the basis of any synthesis paper. It serves as the central argument, summarizing the synthesis of information gathered from selected sources. 

A compelling thesis statement should be clear, concise, and debatable as it sets the tone for the entire paper. 

Synthesis essay thesis statement example

Introduction

....(introduction starts)
....(introduction continues)
....(introduction continues)
The pursuit of space exploration has had profound effects on scientific advancement, global cooperation, and technological innovation, and has also raised ethical considerations. Thesis statement, which is usually the last sentence of your introduction

Step 4 - Create an outline

Creating an outline helps to organize the structure of the essay systematically. Using a formal approach with Roman numerals allows for an orderly arrangement of topics and supporting details.

With an outline, you can use subcategories to cite specific points and integrate references to various sources. Or simply structure your whole essay before you start. 

Synthesis essay outline example

Outline sample

  1. Introduction
    1. Hook sentence
    2. Background information
    3. Thesis statement (Your argument & claim)

  2. Body paragraph 1
    1. Topic sentene
    2. Supporting detail 1
    3. Supporting detail 2
    4. Supporting evidence

  3. Body paragraph 2
    1. Topic sentence
    2. Supporting detail 1
    3. Supporting detail 2

  4. Body paragraph 3
    1. Topic sentence
    2. Supporting detail 1
    3. Supporting detail 2
    4. Counterpoint

  5. Conclusion
    1. Restatement of thesis
    2. Summarize main points
    3. Closing sentence

Step 5 - Start writing your essay

essay outline structure

With the outline, structure your essay into introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.  

First draft won’t be perfect, no worries. Here you simply start writing your essay from intro to the conclusion. 

Refer to our Introduction-Body-Conclusion examples above to complete this step!

Step 6 - Proofread your essay

It is very important to do extensive proofreading before submitting your essay. When proofreading your essay:

5-Paragraph Synthesis Essay Example

So now that you’ve seen all steps of writing a synthesis essay, it’s time to analyze a 5-paragraph example to have practical information. Simply see the essay example below and analyze how each sentence contributes to overall structure of essay. 

The Rise of Telecommuting: A Blessing or a Curse?

Introduction

In the span of a few short years, the morning routine of fighting traffic to get to the office has evolved into a leisurely stroll to one's home workspace. Hook sentence Telecommuting, or working from home, has rapidly transformed from a niche luxury to a common work mode for millions across the globe. With the swift and often mandatory transition to remote work due to unforeseen circumstances, society has been thrust into a grand experiment: Can the advantages of telecommuting overshadow its potential pitfalls? Background The evolution of telecommuting reveals the profound impacts on work-life balance, productivity, and the environment, which are both positive and negative. Thesis statement

Body paragraphs

Firstly, telecommuting has offered an unprecedented enhancement to work-life balance for countless professionals. Topic sentence Employees no longer need to account for commuting hours, allowing them more time to spend with their families, pursue hobbies, or simply rest. The flexibility to structure their day, taking breaks when needed and working during their most productive hours, has led to increased satisfaction among remote workers. Supporting detail 1 and 2 A study from Stanford University highlighted that job attrition rates fell by over 50% when employees were allowed to work from home, indicating a greater contentment and reduced stress in their professional lives. Supporting evidence

Yet, the practice is not without its challenges. Topic sentence For many, the blurred lines between 'work' and 'home' spaces have led to longer work hours and an inability to 'switch off' from professional obligations. Being always accessible can lead to burnout, with the ‘always-on’ culture preventing employees from effectively unplugging. Furthermore, the lack of face-to-face interactions has had implications on team dynamics and collaboration. Supporting detail 1 and 2 While video calls have become the norm, the loss of informal chats by the water cooler or spontaneous team lunches can impact team cohesion and creativity. Insight

Moreover, the environment has inadvertently benefited from the rise in telecommuting.Analysis of the EU's criteria for membership based on democracy With fewer cars on the road during peak hours, cities have reported a significant drop in air pollution levels. Not only does this lead to clearer skies, but it also contributes to the larger fight against climate change. The reduced need for physical office spaces means less energy consumption, which further drives down the carbon footprint of businesses. Supporting detail 1 and 2 However, it's essential to note that these environmental gains can be offset by increased energy use at home, especially in residences not designed for energy efficiency. Counterpoint

Conclusion

In conclusion, telecommuting has brought to light a mixture of blessings and challenges. Restatement of thesis statement While it has enabled a better work-life balance for many and inadvertently contributed to environmental benefits, the pitfalls of extended work hours and reduced team interactions cannot be ignored. As the world continues to adapt to this mode of work, striking the right balance will be paramount. Summary of main points Society must leverage the benefits of remote work while addressing its shortcomings, ensuring that the new work paradigm benefits both the individual and the collective. Closing sentence

And that’s all for today. If you want to keep learning more about academic writing, feel free to visit our extensive Learning Center or YouTube Channel

Duygu Demiröz
Duygu Demiröz
Content writer, editor and translator. Passionate for words and the outer world. Always ready to conquer both realm of language and glittering streets.