How to synthesize written information - 4 steps and examples (2023)

How to synthesize written information from multiple sources

ThroughShona McCombs, published March 28, 2020

When you write a literary review or an essay, you don't just have to summarize the articles you've read: you have tosynthesizethe literature to show how it all fits together (and how your own research fits together).

To synthesize simply means to combine. Instead of summarizing the main points from each source, bring ideas and insights from multiple sources together to get an overall point.

At the simplest level, this means looking for similarities and differences between your sources. Your summary should show the reader where the sources overlap and where they diverge.

unsynthesized example

Franz (2008) surveyed students online. He observed 17 women and 18 men and found that none of them liked APA. According to Franz, the evidence suggests that all students are reluctant to learn the citation style. Pérez (2010) also examines undergraduate students. She analyzed 42 women and 50 men and found that men were significantly more likely to use dating software (p<0.05). The results suggest that women may be graduating earlier. Goldstein (2012) analyzed British university students. Among a sample of 50, they were all women, all confident in their citation skills and eager to write their dissertation.

Source used with permission:To the Chicago school

synthesized example

Studies of college students show conflicting conclusions about the relationships between advanced academic study and the effectiveness of citation. Although Franz (2008) found that no participant enjoyed learning the citation style, Goldstein (2012) found in a larger study that all observed participants felt comfortable citing sources, suggesting that variables between participants and control group populations should be examined more closely. Although Pérez (2010) expanded Franz's original study to include a larger and more diverse sample...

Source used with permission:To the Chicago school

4 steps to synthesize information from different sources

(Video) How to Write Synthesis Essay | Synthesis Essay Examples | Synthesis Essay Thesis, Body & Conclusion

  1. Organize your sources
  2. Describe your structure
  3. Write paragraphs using topic sentences.
  4. Review, edit and review

Step 1: Organize your sources

Once you've gathered the relevant literature, you have a lot of information to work with and you don't have a clear idea of ​​how it all fits together.

Before you start writing, you should organize your notes so that you can see the relationships between the sources.

One way to start synthesizing the literature is to put your notes in a spreadsheet. Depending on the subject and type of literature you are dealing with, there are different ways to organize this.

summary table

A summary table summarizes the key points from each source under consistent headings. This is a good approach when your sources tend to have a similar structure, such as empirical articles.

Each row in the table lists a source, and each column identifies a specific part of the source. You can decide which titles to include based on what is most relevant to the literature you are studying.

For example, you can include columns for things like objectives, methods, variables, population, sample size, and conclusion.

For each study, briefly summarize each of these aspects. You can also add columns for your own evaluation and analysis.

How to synthesize written information - 4 steps and examples (1)

The summary table provides a quick overview of the main points of each source. This allows you to group sources by relevant similarities and identify important differences or contradictions in your results.


A summary matrix is ​​useful when your sources are more diverse in purpose and structure, e.g. B. Books and essays that present many different arguments on a topic.

Each column in the table lists a source. Each line is tagged with a specific concept, theme, or theme that recurs in all or most sources.

Then, for each source, summarize the main points or arguments on the topic.

How to synthesize written information - 4 steps and examples (2)

The purpose of the table is to identify the common points that connect the sources, as well as to identify the points where they differ or disagree.

Step 2: Describe your structure

You should now have a clear picture of the main connections and differences between the sources you read. Next you need to decide how to group them and in what order they will be discussed.

For shorter articles, your outline might identify the focus of each paragraph; You can break longer documents into sections with headings.

There are a few different approaches you can take to structure your summary.

(Video) How to write Synthesis essay example

If your sources cover a long period of time and you've found patterns in how researchers have approached the topic over time, you can organize your discussion.chronologically.

This doesn't mean that you simply summarize each article in chronological order; Instead, you should group the articles by time period and identify commonalities and point out important turning points or developments in the literature.

If the literature covers several different topics, you can organize itthematic.

This means that each paragraph or section focuses on a specific topic and explains how that topic is covered in the literature.

How to synthesize written information - 4 steps and examples (3)

Source used with permission:To the Chicago school

If you draw on literature from many different areas or use a wide variety of research methods, you can organize your sourcesmethodical.

This means grouping studies by the type of research conducted and discussing the results that have emerged from each method.

If your topic involves a debate between different schools of thought, you can organize ittheoretically.

This means comparing the different theories that have been developed and grouping the works according to the position or perspective they take on the subject and assessing which arguments are the most compelling.

Step 3: Write paragraphs using topic sentences

What differentiates an abstract from an executive summary is that it combines multiple sources. The easiest way to think of it is that each paragraph should discuss a few different sources and you should be able to summarize the general point of the paragraph in a single sentence.

Namedmain clause, and usually appears at the beginning of the paragraph. The subject sentence refers to the subject of the entire paragraph; each sentence of the paragraph must clearly refer to it.

A topic sentence can be a simple summary of the paragraph content:

  • "Early research on [x] was largely focused on [y]."

For an effective summary, you can use topic phrases to refer back to the previous paragraph and highlight a point of discussion or criticism:

  • "Several scholars have pointed out the shortcomings of this approach."
  • "While recent research has attempted to address the issue, many of these studies have methodological flaws that limit their validity."

By using topic sentences, you can ensure that your paragraphs are coherent and clearly show the connections between the points discussed.

When writing your paragraphs, avoid direct attribution: Use your own words to explain the similarities and differences you found in the literature.

(Video) How to Write a LITERATURE REVIEW in 3 MINUTES with Examples| For Research & Dissertation

Don't try to cover every point from every source - the key to synthesis is to extract and combine the most important and relevant information to give the reader an overview of the state of knowledge on your topic.

Stage 4: Review, edit and review

Like any other scholarly text, literary synthesis does not happen all at once: it involves repeating, revising, editing, and proofreading your work.

Summary checklist

Am I introducing the paragraph with a clear and focused topic sentence?

Am I referring to more than one source in the paragraph?

Am I only mentioning the most relevant results instead of describing all parts of the studies?

Am I talking about the similarities or differences between the sources instead of summarizing each source individually?

Do I reproduce the findings or arguments of the sources in my own words?

Is the paragraph organized around a single idea?

Is the paragraph directly relevant to my research question or topic?

Is there a logical transition from this paragraph to the next?

Whether you are collating literature for an essay, literature review, or other article, make sure you answer yes to all of these questions.

If you need help with your academic language or additional feedback on structure, consider using aProfessional academic publishing service.

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(Video) How to write a first class essay & dissertation WITH EXAMPLES
To reference this article:

McCombes, S. (2020, March 28).How to synthesize written information from multiple sources🇧🇷 Einfach Psychology. www.simplementepsicologííntesis.html

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