Synthesis and Analysis:
What is Synthesis?
Synthesis occurs when you offer two or more different sources as evidence or support for your own particular argumentative point or counterargument (or someone else’s that you are analyzing). You put two or more sources into conversation with one another.
- Synthesis words or phrases: agrees, disagrees, concurs, expounds upon, goes even further, contradicts, confirms, supports, etc.
- A writes X. B agrees (disagrees, elaborates upon, etc.) and writes Y.
- Example: John argues that we need stricter gun control policies in order to prevent violence and preserve the safety of citizens (article, page number). Jane disagrees with John’s arguments and claims that individuals need the right to protect themselves from criminals.
- Then you want to go a little further and bring your own voice into the conversation and perform some analysis.
- Example: These competing positions demonstrate the complexity of this issue by showing very different ways of thinking about what it means to prevent violence and preserve safety. Ultimately, although these authors disagree with one another, it is evident that they share the common value of safety. In fact, according to a recent poll regarding issues of gun control and gun rights, 87% of participants claim their positioning on the topic is based upon concerns relating to safety (article, page number). It is interesting that many people seem to share similar values that underlie their core political beliefs. Perhaps considering the values that are motivating people’s political positions can help us to find areas of common ground and have more meaningful conversations with those we disagree with. By examining John’s position on the issue through comparison with those who disagree with him, I can better understand his arguments and identify with his value of safety.
- Although these two authors may make opposing arguments, a close reading sometimes demonstrates the shared values behind their claims. This shows the importance of examining multiple positions to social/political issues in order to gain a better understanding of the topic holistically. Even though we may disagree with positions that are not our own, this research shows that people with opposing positions usually have credible reasons for believing what they do. Ideally, if we can gain a better understanding for why people hold the positions they do, we can begin to have more productive discourse on the topic.
What is Analysis?
Analysis occurs when you “join the conversation” and elaborate further on a source, example, idea. See the example above. Ask questions of the text/source and show the reader what it really means, why it matters, and what interesting nuances can be drawn from it.
- What does the source information mean?
- What do we need to know that isn’t explicitly mentioned?
- Why is this source information interesting?
- Why is this source information important?
- How is the source information challenged or supported?
- What examples, or metaphors, might be used to make the information more clear?
- What values might the author be exposing with his/her arguments?
Copyright, 2022, Lamanda Beesley Conrad