How do I tie my articles together and have it all make sense? How do I unite my body paragraphs?
In order to tie your essays together you need to first find the one common topic that they all share. From there begin listing subtopics that appear in each article. You will find that some articles have similar or the same subtopics. This is a good way to go about forming body paragraphs. If you devote a paragraph to each subtopic, then compare and contrast two of your sources’ viewpoints in that paragraph, you will have united your sources and kept within the overall topic of your thesis.
An example would be that I may find that all five of my essays have something to say about coastal erosion, but they comment on this topic in different ways and at varying degrees. So then I make a list of the types of things, or subtopics, that my articles say about coastal erosion.
Article #1: cost of erosion for the country, how coastal erosion is a serious threat to communities during hurricane season.
Article #2: coastal erosion is a natural occurrence and people should simply adapt by not living near the coast, the politics of coastal erosion.
Article #3: coastal erosion is wiping out an entire fishing industry in America.
Article #4: facts and figures about coastal erosion over the last sixty years.
Article #5: what is being done to combat coastal erosion in other countries and how America could follow suit.
After making my list of subtopics I can see many ways that my articles are in conversation or synthesis. First of all article #2 is my opposing viewpoint and goes against the grain of my other articles so it can be used to show the rebuttal to my thesis. Second, article #1 and article #3 are both discussing money—for article #1 it is the general cost of erosion for the country, and for #3 it is specifically the loss we take when an entire industry is under threat. Articles 4 and 5 can both be used to reinforce my other articles and to provide context for my reader.
What if I still haven’t found any good outside sources?
It is very important that you do this sooner rather than later. If research is proving to be difficult for you then you may want to stick to Opposing Viewpoints and stay away from Academic Search Premier. Finding your sources takes effort, it will not happen in ten minutes—unless you are very lucky or willing to settle for a weak source. Take the time to look through articles based on your overall topic and the subtopics of the essays that you chose from your Mercury Reader. Ask a librarian or make an appointment with the Writing Center of all else fails.
How specific does my overall topic have to be?
Your overall topic is most likely going to be broad or very general. What you need to focus on making specific is your thesis. Your thesis should be developed from the synthesis of all of your articles. This implies that you have identified the subtopics of those articles, which are more specific aspects of your broad overall topic. So when determining your overall topic you do not have to stress about making all five sources agree on a very specific point, save that work for your thesis and how you plan to address the subtopics in each source.
How is synthesis different from analysis?
In order to get to synthesis you must analyze. When you analyze your sources you are breaking them down to observe how they work topic by topic. For our Unit Four essay this is done through comparing and contrasting sources. When you only focus on a single topic of a source at a time you are giving it close attention, thus analyzing not just what the source is arguing, but how it is making its point. The reason comparing and contrasting is used to do this is because when we place sources beside one another it is easier to observe the smaller, more specific details.
Once you have analyzed all five sources by comparing and contrasting them via subtopics, you can begin to synthesize all of that information. In synthesis you take the best ideas from all of your sources and try to make a better, relevant “answer” or claim to the problem at hand. So if you are writing about pesticides then you would read and analyze what all five of your sources have to say about that and from there choose the best approach to dealing with pesticides based on what all of the sources had to offer.