University students are trained to be capable of research; this is why a synthesis essay is often required of them. It is an investigative paper regarding a chosen topic. The subject of the paper can be a concept, phenomenon or issue; it presents ideas from various perspectives. Typically, the contents of the essay are based on thorough data gathering and research using scholarly sources. College courses assign this type of academic writing to equip students with research skills, critical thinking and resourcefulness.
Just like any typical essay, a synthesis essay requires a thesis statement. The thesis could be a sentence or multiple sentences that briefly state the main idea of the whole text. Ideally, this should be stated at the beginning of the essay to make the reader aware of what the text is about. Some writers however, prefer building up the contents first, leading to the main point (thesis) at the end of the text. At other times, the thesis statement can be in the middle of the essay. Whichever position is preferred by the writer, it still remains a vital part of the essay. It is the statement controlling the flow of the rest of the essay.
A synthesis essay, though, differs from other essay types because the thesis is not argumentative. Since a synthesis provides a summation of various perspectives regarding a particular subject, the essay does not take any particular position on the matter but only goes so far as to create an overview of each. The writer can include his personal views on the issue at hand but the goal is not to assert a single argument but to present various arguments; it is informative rather than argumentative or persuasive. Therefore, the thesis statement can express, in a brief and concise manner, what the topic of the synthesis essay is about. For example, the subject of the essay could be about Cartesian philosophy. The writer could create a thesis statement such as, “Contemporary philosophers have much to say about Descartes’ philosophy and they present various arguments as the rightful interpretation of such philosophy”.
Based on the given sample thesis statement, the writer can then develop the succession of ideas to support the main idea. The various perspectives of the contemporary philosophers could be presented, alongside scholarly sources that support their ideas. The synthesis essay should not only present but compare and assess the arguments of the philosophers. The arguments should be collated into a critical commentary regarding the issue of varying interpretations of Cartesian philosophy. The only way to expertly present multiple views on a topic is by seeking various sources for data. The most important aspect of the synthesis is thorough research. The student should both be writer and researcher in order to take in information and organize them into a meaningful synthesis.
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