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WRTG 391 Writing Assignment #3 Synthesis Essay (sometimes
called a Literature Review)
Writing Assignment #3 will be a synthesis essay, a format
that is sometimes referred to as a literature review. Please click here for a
video that briefly describes and outlines this writing assignment.
Organization:
Your synthesis essay should be organized in the following
manner: •Introduction: Write one or two paragraphs in which you introduce the
reader to your topic. •Body-the categories into which you are dividing the
literature: Divide your sources into a few categories. A suggestion is that you
divide them into three to five categories. •Conclusion: Summarize what the
literature says on your topic. Approach: This semester, you have constructed a
table of research findings of four articles that discussed research studies. You have also critically evaluated several
articles in the annotated bibliography. In this assignment you will synthesize
the ideas of several authors in a synthesis essay, or literature review. For
your annotated bibliography, you selected a topic based on your interests and,
possibly, your major. You constructed a list of 12 references and summarized
and critically analyzed them in 150-200 words each. Through this process, you
may have seen patterns in the scholarly literature in the topic on which you
conducted research. For example, consider the following examples: •You may have
researched studies in criminal justice and found that there are varying
opinions on how to respond to criminal behavior among youth. •You may have
researched studies in psychology and found that counseling strategies for
victims of domestic abuse tend to fall into four categories. •You may have
researched graphic communications and discovered that the integration of
graphics in business report writing has evolved from the 1970s to the present
because of advancements in technology. •You may have researched articles on
gerontology and found studies that answered three basic questions on how older
adults respond to training for physical performance.
In the synthesis essay, you will focus your research efforts
in a particular area, perhaps as a response to what you found while writing the
annotated bibliography. You will then conduct more research and synthesize your
findings in this synthesis essay. Please note that the annotated bibliography
was the beginning, not the end, of your research. You might decide to disregard
several of the articles you analyzed in the critical annotated bibliography
because they don’t speak to the specific area on which you have decided to
write your synthesis essay. You might select one article that
you analyzed in the critical annotated bibliography, look up
the articles cited in that article, and “snowball” your research in that way.
In other words, this process is a recursive one. You might find reasons to hone
in on and narrow your topic even further after you have written the annotated
bibliography.
How to organize the synthesis essay: When you have focused
on your topic, determine how you will divide the literature. In other words,
consider the following examples we described above: You may have researched
studies in criminal justice and found that there are varying opinions on how to
respond to criminal behavior among youth. You might divide the paper as
follows: Introduction Body •Category 1: “A” view on responding to criminal
behavior. •Category 2: “B” view on responding to criminal behavior. •Category
3: “C” view on responding to criminal behavior. •Category 4: “D” view on
responding to criminal behavior. Conclusion

You may have researched studies in psychology and found that
counseling strategies for victims of domestic abuse tend to fall into four
categories. You might divide the paper as follows: Introduction Body •Category
1: “A” counseling strategy for victims of child abuse •Category 2: “B”
counseling strategy for victims of child abuse •Category 3: “C” counseling
strategy for victims of child abuse •Category 4: “D” counseling strategy for
victims of child abuse Conclusion
You may have researched graphic communications and
discovered that the integration of graphics in business report writing has
evolved from the 1970s to the present because of advancements in technology.
You might divide the paper as follows: Introduction
Body
•Category 1: graphics in business report writing in the
1970s •Category 2: graphics in business report writing in the 1980s •Category
3: graphics in business report writing in the 1990s •Category 4: graphics in
business report writing from 2000 to the present Conclusion
You may have researched articles on gerontology and found
studies that answered three basic questions on how older adults respond to
training for physical performance. You might divide the paper as follows:
Introduction Body •Question 1 •Question 2 •Question 3 Conclusion
In order for you to see this concept with a real-life
example, you can access a sample synthesis or literature review from a
psychology student by clicking here. The student writes her paper on the
following topic: Emotional Eating: The Perpetual Cycle of Mood-Food Influence.
She divides her literature into the following categories: •Influence of Mood on
Eating Behavior •Gender Differences •Influence of Eating Behavior on Later
Moods •Chronic Stress Response Network Notice how she synthesizes and
integrates the research into the different categories.
Approach and Requirements Your synthesis essay, or
literature review, should be 2000-2500 words, not including your “references”
pages at the end of the review. In other words, the text of the paper should be
2000-2500 words. In addition your synthesis essay should include at least 10
scholarly sources in the “references” section. As stated above, this means that
you may decide not to use all 12 sources that you summarized in your annotated
bibliography. You are free to use all 12 of them. However, it is possible that
your experience in writing summaries of the 12 sources led you to conclude that
a few of them will not be as helpful to your topic as you had originally
thought. You may decide not to include such sources in the synthesis essay.
This is totally up to
you. Moreover, you might find other sources that you would
like to include in your synthesis essay that were not included in your
annotated bibliography. You may use such sources in your synthesis essay as
well.
Some helpful tutorials and guides from UMUC’s Effective
Writing Center: • Click herefor a tutorial that features two short videos on
writing a literature review. • Click here for a tutorial on principles in
synthesizing multiple sources. In synthesizing your research, you are analyzing
the topic on which you have conducted research.
Click here for a helpful tutorial on analyzing a topic.
Some helpful guides from other universities: • Some very
systematic advice from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can be
accessed by clicking here. • Some helpful advice from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison can be accessed by clicking here.

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