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Sources in Conversation

This guide is designed to help you synthesize research in your writing.

Synthesis Tips

Synthesis Tips

Need help synthesizing sources? Start with these suggestions:

  • Group your sources by topic and look for connections between them. Note where authors disagree or agree on a topic. 
  • Think about how your source’s arguments relate to your thesis: who agrees with you and who disagrees with you?
  • Avoid list summaries where you list every point an author makes. For example, you do not want your paragraph to look like: “The author says... then they said this...also they brought addition they said”  
  • Make sure that your quotations support the argument you are making. Do not just put a quotation in to assert that you read an article. When using quotations ask yourself: is this helping your argument? Will this contribute to your audience understanding your argument?  

Helpful Synthesis Phrases

When writing, these phrases can serve as a starting place for synthesizing your sources.

  • In comparison 

  • In contrast 

  • Similarly 

  • Moreover 

  • Compared with/to 

  • Relative to 

  • Versus 

  • Likewise 

  • X agrees when she writes, “_____________.” 

  • X disagrees when he writes, “______________.” 

  • According to both X and Y, _____________. 

  • A number of scholars have recently suggested that X’s work has several fundamental problems. 

  • On the contrary 

  • Conversely 

  • On the other hand 

Adapted from Graff & Birkenstein (2018)

Tools for Thinking About Synthesis

These tools can help you synthesize your sources. This matrix provides an easy way of visualizing the patterns and relationships between your sources.