The Norton Field Guide explains that “When you synthesize, you group similar bits of information together, looking for patterns or themes or trends and trying to identify key points…such as how two sources agree with each other but not completely and how the information in one source supports or undercuts the argument of another” (Bullock 473-75).

In order to identify a research topic for the semester’s inquiry, you will write a paper that explores a debatable issue (related to your major) from three differing perspectives as you synthesize the arguments of three scholarly research sources.


For this essay, you will synthesize — compare, contrast, and combine the arguments — of three scholarly articles/sources. Once you have gathered and read through your three quality sources, you will craft a thesis about how the three sources agree and disagree with one another. After beginning the essay with a summary of the debatable issue, synthesize and compare/contrast three different stances on the issue observed in the articles; finally, end the essay with a brief description of your own personal perspective on the three sources.


  • 3-5 FULL pages (not including Works Cited Page)
  • Adherence to MLA formatting guidelines (12-point Times New Roman font, double spacing, 1″ margins, etc.)
  • MLA Works Cited Page, listing your three sources
  • An underlined thesis statement explaining the various sources the paper will synthesize
  • PDF submission or Word file (.doc or .docx)

Peer Review Questions and Grading Criteria

  1. What does the essay do especially well?
  2. What is the title of the essay? Does the title reveal something about the content of the essay?
  3. Does the introduction of the essay establish the context of the issue, providing enough background information?
  4. What’s the thesis statement? Does the thesis focus on the debatable issue and the articles’ viewpoints? Does it allude to the main points? Is it on the first page? Is it 1-3 sentences?
  5. Does each section reference the scholarly article and compare/contrast it with others?
  6. Does the conclusion make an argument about which sources(s) your peer agrees/disagrees with? Do other areas of your peer’s opinion throughout the essay need to be removed (or moved to the conclusion)? This section will later be elaborated into the 8-12 page Researched Argument; is your peer off to a strong start?
  7. How is the essay organized? Does the essay flow logically and smoothly? Can you identify a topic sentence early in each body paragraph?
  8. How would you describe the tone of the essay? Is the essay appropriately academic in its tone? Are there casual sections that could be more professional?
  9. Is the essay free of grammatical and surface errors on the sentence level? (Point out any problem areas. Feel free to ask me any questions.)
  10. Do you find any sections of the Synthesis Essay that would be better fit in the Proposal or the Researched Argument?
  11. What two or three revisions would most strengthen this essay?

Please note that I will also use these questions as a guide when grading this paper, so be sure to compose your writing with these criteria in mind.