Synthesis Essay Video Lecture
Indonesia has already lost 24 small islands off Aceh, North Sumatra, Papua and Riau between 2005 and 2007 to rising sea levels due to climate change. It says that even Obama is trying to make people aware of the problem with his visit with fishermen in the remote coastal village of Dillingham, where the President wants a distracted public to see the jarring effects of global warming through his own eyes. It's a good kind of essay to help you start learning to use sources and to get ready for writing research papers.
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In this lesson, you’re going to learn how to write a synthesis essay. A synthesis essay helps readers understand a topic. This is necessary when a topic is complicated or may have lots of related issues. Let’s take the topic of global warming. We know that this is a controversial issue that people disagree on, and you can find a lot of information on this topic. So to do a synthesis essay on this topic, you would read a lot of different sources, read some articles, look at some charts and graphs. Then you would try to simplify the information in your own mind. There are many theories about how serious it is, what is causing it, and what should be done about it. All of these are possible subjects for an essay. Your job is to pick the one aspect that interests you the most and that you have enough ideas about to write an essay with several body paragraphs. Once you have your topic, you need to come up with a thesis statement. Remember that a thesis statement must have two parts, the topic and the controlling idea. It needs to be complex and something that not everybody already knows. The thesis in a synthesis essay is the point you’re going to make for the reader. It should be something that’s not easily understood or commonly known, because the point of the synthesis essay is to explain something to the reader. So the writer might come up with a thesis such as this. Most people don’t think about the threat of rising sea levels, but the issue will be devastating for people who live near the ocean. This thesis has a topic, the threat of rising sea levels, and a controlling idea, it will devastate people near the ocean. Then the writer is going to think of several examples of that devastation. Remember we’re trying to show this to the reader. So we need several points that will make them understand this problem. These will be the topics of the body paragraphs. Some communities will disappear. Natural protections from storms will disappear. And a lot of money will be lost. Then the writer will use some examples from his different sources to help support these points. Remember you don’t want to have only three body paragraphs. Four or five body paragraphs will make your essay more developed and convincing. So look at this writer’s ideas and see which ones are complex enough to be dealt with in two or more paragraphs. Each of them might be able to work for two paragraphs, but the easiest one is probably right here. A lot of money will be lost is pretty general. The writer can divide this topic in a couple of different ways and develop at least two good paragraphs. For example, he might decide to have one paragraph about the locals who will lose money because they can’t fish or because their homes are destroyed. The writer could have another body paragraph about the money lost internationally because of this community’s trouble. Perhaps some international businesses or industries depend on a community affected by rising sea levels. Let’s talk a little bit about developing the body paragraphs. Here’s the topic of our first body paragraph and the three supporting ideas this writer will use to develop that paragraph. Homes near ocean will be underwater, so people will move. Jobs will be lost, so people will move. And people will be afraid to stay, so they will move. Those are the three supports for this topic that communities will disappear. The writer will give a couple of details for each one, and this is where the writer will use his source material. He will give some examples or details from the sources. And those will be quotations or paraphrase, which will need to be cited. For example, with this first supporting idea, the writer might talk about some countries whose populations are mostly near the coast. He might give some examples of this, such as Sri Lanka or Indonesia. Then he would want to use a quote from one of his articles. Here’s a good quote to support this point. The writer found this quote in an article he read from International Business Times. Indonesia has already lost 24 small islands off Aceh, North Sumatra, Papua and Riau between 2005 and 2007 to rising sea levels due to climate change. For the second supporting idea, the writer wants to use these details. Tourism will be affected and fishermen will be hurt. But then the writer will want to use a source to help support this point. He decides to use a source from CNN’s website about President Obama’s visit to Alaska. It says that even Obama is trying to make people aware of the problem with his visit with fishermen in the remote coastal village of Dillingham, where the President wants a distracted public to see the jarring effects of global warming through his own eyes. For the third supporting idea, the writer gives an example of a reason why people would be afraid. Maybe he mentions people being afraid of the high waters that come in from the ocean when there’s a storm. This is called storm surge. Then the writer looks in his articles for a quote to back this up. He finds a quote from a weatherchannel.com article that says the risk in south Florida of storm surge flooding will be far higher by 2030. So now the writer has found three quotes to go in this paragraph, one for each of his supporting ideas. We just looked at a quote from an outside source for each supporting idea in the first paragraph. That’s good if you can find one for each support, but it’s okay if you only do that for maybe two of the supporting ideas, as long as you have other specific examples for each supporting idea. In other words, a quote is not the only way to give a specific detail. But outside quotes are valuable to your academic writing, because they show that you are not the only one who has these ideas. You’re showing that other experts also agree with what you’re saying. So in your synthesis essay, try to have at least two quotes in each body paragraph. You also have to be careful not to have too many quotes in your essay. Generally speaking, an academic essay should not have more than about ten or 12% source material. So you might have two or three short quotes in each paragraph. A synthesis essay is used to synthesize information. That means it takes complex ideas from different sources and makes them into some sensible point. It’s a good kind of essay to help you start learning to use sources and to get ready for writing research papers. Good luck with your essay.
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