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Synthesis in Research: Home

You've found a bunch of great sources for your research project. Now what?

An important step between researching and writing (or creating) is organizing your notes so that you form connections between your sources and your own thoughts and ideas

What is Synthesis? Synthesis is a form of analysis related to comparison and contrast, classification and division. On a basic level, synthesis involves bringing together two or more sources, looking for themes in each. In synthesis, you search for the links between various materials in order to make your point. Most advanced academic writing relies heavily on synthesis.

In terms of synthesizing and creating, an information literate student:

  • Selects appropriate information to synthesize from multiple sources
  • Communicate effectively using appropriate writing styles in a variety of formats

The links and videos below will help you to better understand the process of synthesizing information, and will give you tips on effective note-taking and organization. 

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)


I would like to give credit to Aultman Health Sciences Library.  Most of the information used to create this guide is from their English Research libguide.

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