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English Research

Helpful resources for students in ENG 105 & 107.


What is synthesis?

Synthesizing information is the opposite of analyzing information. When you read an article or book, you have to pull out specific concepts from the larger document in order to understand it. This is analyzing.

When you synthesize information, you take specific concepts and consider them together to understand how they compare/contrast and how they relate to one another. Synthesis involves combining multiple elements to create a whole.

In regard to course assignments, the elements refer to the outside sources you've gathered to support the ideas you want to present. The whole then becomes your conclusion(s) about those sources.

How do I synthesize information?

Note: These steps offer a guideline, but do what works for you best.

  1. Review the gathered literature
    • This is where you really decide if you want to read specific materials
    • If you have gathered a substantial amount of literature and reading all of it would prove overwhelming, read the abstracts to get a better idea of the content, then select the materials that would best support your assignment
  2. Read the literature & take notes
    • Describe and analyze the findings and/or the author's main ideas
    • Try asking yourself:
      • What's the author's message?
      • What evidence do they use to support their message?
      • What does the author want a reader to understand?
      • What is the larger impact of the author's message?
  3. Synthesize all of the information you've gathered from the literature
    • Compare and contrast the main ideas and other pertinent information you found in each source
    • Evaluate the quality and significance of these main ideas
    • Interpret the main ideas in the context of your research question or assignment topic
  4. Draw conclusions
    • This is the step where your synthesis of the information will lead to logical conclusions about that information
    • These conclusions should speak directly to your research question (i.e. your question should have an answer)

Visit the link below for helpful resources on note-taking:

More Resources

This video from explains synthesis from the perspective of how we synthesize information in our daily lives.

This video from USU Libraries explains synthesis from the perspective of synthesizing information in a research project.


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