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Jacob Wilson 101

Jacob Wilson 101


Synthesis Essay

Essay Three: Synthesis Essay

Minimum Five pages

Reminder of MLA Style basics:

  • 12 point font (use Times New Roman)
  • One-inch margins on all four sides.
  • Top Left side of FIRST page:  Your full name, My name, Class Name, Date
  • Top Right side of ALL pages: Your last name, page number
  • Double Space but do not add an extra space between paragraphs
  • Use Parenthetical citations for any quotes, paraphrases, and references to your sources.


In this assignment, you will practice synthesis by combining one of our class readings with two related sources. A synthesis essay combines existing material to produce a new argument or a new avenue of Inquiry. A synthesis essay is not merely a report of what others have said, nor is it just Comparison/Contrast. Your goal is to produce an advance in the conversation that considers multiple sides yet offers a new idea or viewpoint or asks new questions.

How To Begin:

  • Choose an essay from our textbook or choose The Line Becomes a River.
    • Create a summary worksheet and write a one-paragraph summary (see Inquiry Ch. 3).
  • Visit the Victor Valley College library website to find two more sources (articles, essays, e-books) that address the same or similar topic as your choice.
  • Once you have secured your sources, complete these mandatory pre-writing tasks:
    • For each source, create a summary worksheet and write a one-paragraph summary (see Inquiry Ch. 3).
    • Create one synthesis worksheet that combines all three of your sources (see Inquiry Ch. 8).
    • Write a two-to-three paragraph synthesis (see Inquiry Ch. 8).

What To Do:

  • Briefly, but accurately and objectively, summarize all three sources, focusing on main ideas and primary supporting points.
  • Combine the ideas of your sources with your own thoughts and opinions to produce a new argument or idea for further inquiry or research.
  • Crystallize your argument or idea in a concise thesis statement (main Claim) and support your own thesis with sound reasoning and evidence, including evidence provided by your sources.
  • In the end, write an organized, thesis-driven essay that includes brief summaries of your sources but mostly synthesizes their arguments according to the explanation of synthesis in Chapter Eight of From Inquiry to Academic Writing.

Research Project Overview

RESEARCH ESSAY PROJECT:  60 total points 

Topic Choices: For this essay project, choose either The Line Becomes a River or an essay from Inquiry as your starting point. It can be an essay you’ve already written about, but it doesn’t have to be. Whichever direction you decide to go, this project requires you to find at least NINE more sources through the Victor Valley College Library website (you may be able to count your synthesis essay sources toward your total as long as they fit the topic and address the issue). 


Research Proposal 

Write a two-page research proposal, stating your intent to research. The proposal should include your topic, the issue (including your view of the issue), your research question, and your hypothesis (a working thesis statement). Your proposal should also explain the significance, importance or usefulness of your research. Furthermore, your proposal should also mention any preliminary research you have already done and make reference to at least one of those sources (your first source or one of your synthesis sources). Finally, your proposal should explain the type of research you are planning on doing and the possible obstacles you expect to face. 

Annotated Bibliography 

Write an MLA-style annotated bibliography with an entry for each of your TEN sources. Each entry should include both summary and evaluation, including the usefulness of the source for your proposed essay. An acceptable entry will generally be one long paragraph or two short paragraphs. Keep in mind that the Annotated Bibliography is a distinct and separate assignment from the actual essay and should not be substituted for the essay’s Works Cited page or vice versa (but the citation part is exactly the same for both). 

Research Essay 

 By the end of this project, you will have planned, developed, written, and revised a focused, thesis-driven, MLA-formatted & documented eight-page research paper that answers a specific Research Question with a specific, focused, and arguable thesis statement and incorporates at least five of your sources to support that answer with good reasons and evidence. 

Important Note: your essay should NOT just be an overview of a general topic or attempt to cover a wide range of issues. It also shouldn't just explain the opposing sides of a general topic. Instead your essay should focus on a very narrow and specific aspect of the topic. For example, The Line Becomes a River is about the general topic of immigration but goes deeper into specific issues related to the larger issue. In your textbook, many of the essays deal with a specific aspect or issue related to education, technology, and/or social media. 

 Research Criteria: 

  1. All sources must be found through the Victor Valley College library website or an equivalent academic library website. 
  2. At least half of your researched sources must be considered print* sources (originally published in a book, journal, magazine, or newspaper) 
  3. At least half of your researched sources must be scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources. 

 *This won't be as difficult as you might think. You don’t need to have the physical copy of a source for it count as a print source. Many of the articles you'll find in the library's databases were originally published in journals. You can count an E-book as a print source IF the exact same book was also published as a print book. But if it was only ever an e-book, if it's from a strictly online journal, or if it's from a website only, do not count it as a print source. If you're not sure check with April Ayto, our campus librarian.

Grading Note: All aspects of the project must be completed and turned in order to get full credit on individual assignments. Otherwise, turned-in assignments will be graded at a 75% rate. 

Page Count Note: Your essay, from introduction to conclusion, should take up a full eight pages BEFORE counting headers, titles, and all other information.