Synthesising requires the skills of paraphrasing and summarising: to combine ideas from different sources to support your idea.
Unlike paraphrasing and summarising, which use only one source’s idea at a time, a synthesis combines similar findings amongst two or more sources, allowing you to demonstrate linkages between different authors, which can create more powerful evidence for you to present to your reader.
Let’s see what synthesising looks like in practice. In the example below, we’ve identified four different journal articles for our topic, Is rote learning effective learning? From these readings, we’ve made the following notes:
Karpicke, J. D. (2012). Retrieval-based learning: Active retrieval promotes meaningful learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(3), 157-163. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721412443552
Tavakol, M. (2010). Are Asian international medical students just rote learners? Advances in Health Sciences Education, 15, 369-377. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-009-9203-1
Mholo, M. K. (2014). Is rote learning of number concepts ‘inherently rotten’ or is it just a blame and shame game that vitiates principles of natural progression? Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(27), 1581-1591. https://doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n27p1581
Yang, W., & Dai, W. (2011). Rote memorization of vocabulary and vocabulary development. English Language Teaching, 4(4), 61-64. https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v4n4p61
From our notes, we’ve written the following synthesis:
You’ll find some tips for referencing your synthesising in the Library’s referencing guides. For APA and Chicago, check out the information in the section, In-text citations explained - Multiple sources for the same information.