Political Economy and Social Movements:
Race, Class and Gender

What is a synthesis paper?


Synthesis means putting ideas from many sources together in one essay or presentation. After reading several books, watching movies and participating in a variety of class activities, your task is to organize some of the information around a theme or a question, make generalizations, and then present information (statistics, quotes, examples) in a logical way to support your argument. Remind yourself that a synthesis is NOT a summary, a comparison or a review.Rather a synthesis is a result of an integration of what you heard/read and your ability to use this learning to develop and support a key thesis or argument.
Learning to write a synthesis paper is a critical skill, crucial to organizing and presenting information is academic and non-academic settings.
How to write a synthesis paper?


1. Pick a topic from the list we put together or choose another topic that lends itself to synthesis

2. Develop a thesis. If you posed a question, present a tentative answer.Begin your paper with the thesis, clearly outlining the ideas you will develop 

3. Identify at least three texts, which we read in this class and address the theme and/or question you chose to focus on. Ideally you can find references, which support your thesis. 

4. Read each of your sources carefully and summarize main ideas 

5. Analyze your sources to identify the similarities and differences or group similar ideas together; generalize from these similar ideas 

6. Assemble the various generalizations in a logical and coherent way 

7. Focus on the ideas, not the authors of those ideas (your essay should not sound like a list of unrelated ideas by unrelated people) 

8. It is highly recommended that you use direct quotes when referring to texts, but make sure you situate your quotes and integrate them into the paper both in terms of content and writing

9. If your thesis/question lends itself to this, you can present and refute arguments, which challenge it

10. Whenever possible, make an effort to pepper your paper with real-world examples, which support your overall argument

11. In conclusion you should summarize your main thesis and outline questions, which remain open or issues that ought to be further explored



1.The length of your paper should be 5-7 typed double-spaced pages with reasonable margins.This does not include your bibliography (or works cited).

2.Be consistent in your use of bibliographic references; include page numbers for quotes. List all works you cited at the end of your paper

3.As you use quotations to support your ideas, make sure you do not produce a paper of lengthy quotes strung together. If you quote three lines or fewer, the quote should not be set off or indented but integrated into the text of your paper. 

4.Do not use first person.

5.Connect ideas using linking devices and transitions.

6.Spend time outlining, organizing and editing your paper.Ideally, you can find someone else to proof-read your paper.

7.When you are done editing, think of a title, which best captures your thesis.