Writing Project #2: The Synthesis Essay – Joining the Conversation

FINAL DRAFT: Writing Project #2: The Synthesis Essay – Joining the Conversation 

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  • Due Sunday by 11:59pm
  • Points 100
  • Submitting a file upload


Synthesis writing is not argumentative in nature. This type of academic writing allows you to become knowledgeable on a focused narrowed subject by engaging in current research, and examining various perspectives and opinions. You will analyze your sources’ responses to a research question you have developed and will present those views as a “conversation” between your sources. You will then present your own view of the question, a view that reflects your “wallowing in the complexity” of the issue in order to gain experience working with synthesis.  Synthesis is the ability to create a new whole, your own perspective, by studying alternative views on an issue.  In other words, the “new whole” is your own point of view on an issue, something you will obtain through the combination of analyzing the ideas of others and relating them to one another. But remember, a point of view is NOT an argument position.

Skills: The purpose of English 111 is to help you develop and practice writing and thinking skills essential to your success in college and in your professional life beyond school. Drawing on Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains, we will focus on developing writerly “moves” that characterize strong written communication. This assignment will ask you to practice the following writing skills: Analyzing, Evaluating, and Synthesizing.

Knowledge: This assignment will focus on developing knowledge in the following course learning objectives:

  • (2) Develop and apply strategies for critical reading, critical thinking, and information literacy.
  • (4) Analyze and synthesize researched information to develop and support original claims.
  • (7) Employ correct techniques of style, formatting, and documentation when incorporating quotes, paraphrases, and summaries from sources into compositions.


This paper will build on writing projects you have done previously in the course and will utilize the material from the Thematic Module:  Is College the Best Option?  You may (and likely will) refocus and revise the thematic module research question for this project, but your overall topic should stay the same.  Textual support for this essay will come from The Little Seagull Handbook Chapters W-16 “Reading Strategies,” R-3 “Synthesizing Ideas” and R-4 “Integrating Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism.”


1) You will choose five (5) sources from the class core readings (Thematic Module) to review looking for patterns and common themes reoccurring in these readings. One of your selections can be Stiglitz’s “A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent,” but it doesn’t have to be.

2) You will then form a focused research question drawn from the five selections. NOTE:  This should not be the same question as the title of the Thematic Module. This should be a NARROWED question of your own.

3) Construct a synthesis grid to help you organize the drafting of this essay

4)  From the synthesis grid, construct a two part analytical thesis statement, which explains what current scholars are saying about your topic in the literature and your own developing position on this subject.

5) You will then use the synthesis grid to begin organizing and drafting your initial draft of the Synthesis Essay.


  • Length: About 4 pages double spaced 
  • Use standard fonts and sizes (Times New Roman 12, Calibri 11)
  • The final draft of the essay should observe formal formatting and documentation (MLA) guidelines 
  • You will need to include quotes from at least four (4) of the classes core readings for this paper.

Criteria for Success:

Writing Project #2 is worth a total of 100 points. A successful finished product will meet the criteria below.


Synthesis Essay Rubric

Synthesis Essay Rubric
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeIntroduction Engaging and effective introduction with sufficient background information given on the subject.10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeThesis Statement Strong analytical thesis statement outlining multiple perspectives on the research question and the writer’s own developing position.10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganization Clear and effective organization of the essay by common theme.20 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeEffective Use of Sources Effective representation and discussion of multiple perspectives on each topic. Effective use of direct quotation and paraphrasing of sources.20 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeConclusion Conclusion offering insight into the significance or the larger context of this discussion and establishing the writer’s own position on the research question.10 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeDocumentation and Formatting Follows the guidelines for APA or MLA formatting and documentation. This includes formatting for the paper, in-text citations and a bibliography.15 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeWriting Conventions and Expectations Mostly follows the conventions of standard written English. Meets the assignment requirements and is submitted on-time. A minimum of four (4) pages double spaced.15 pts
Total Points: 100


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