Synthesizing is an important and complex skill
required in academic writing. It involves
combining ideas from a range of sources in
order to group and present common ideas or
Synthesizing is similar to summarising and
paraphrasing in that it involves rewriting other
people’s ideas in your own words.
But, unlike summarizing and paraphrasing, it
combines or draws together ideas from more
than one text or source at a time.
It uses and cites multiple sources.
Read more than one source of
Make brief notes using
keypoints/keywords. This makes it
easier to compare and contrast
Identify common ideas.
Highlight and list
similarities. eg. Write one
sentence for each material
referred to. Sentences should
consist of central point and
(or) brief summary of each
Write the ideas in your own
Give credit to the authors of
Synthesizing a similar idea:
Contemporary second language writing
theorists such as Grabe and Kaplan (1996),
Kroll (2001) and Silva (1990) pointed out that
a substantial number of studies on English as a
second language (ESL) writing started to
emerge in the 1960s.
The previous slide shows the writer has read
from three sources (Grabe and Kaplan (1996),
Kroll (2001) and Silva (1990)) to present his
point that a substantial number of studies on
English as a second language (ESL) writing
started to emerge in the 1960s.
Synthesizing another similar idea:
Ary et al. (2002), Campbell and Stanley
(1966), and Fraenkel and Wallen (2000),
discussed the internal validity threats that can
confound the effects on a dependent variable
in a quasi-experiment.
Synthesizing contrasting ideas (i)
Text 1: (Bond, 2002)
-international language for business
-used for international forums
-second language in many countries
Text 2 : (Robertson, 2003)
-used in worldwide technology
-computers is a key factor in spread of English
-internationalization of education
Common idea: English is the global world language
Synthesizing contrasting ideas (ii)
Text 3: (Havir, 1999)
-small no of speakers worldwide
-importance of English linked to political power
-more people speak Chinese worldwide
Text 4: (Kerstjens, 2000)
-minority of speakers in world
-Chinese dominant especially in future
-English will decline in future
Common idea: English is not the global world language
Supporting the contention that English is the
dominant world language, Bond (2002) and
Robertson(2003) pointed out its importance as
the medium of international communication in
business, technology and other global forums.
However, others argue that despite its apparent
dominance, English is not the global language
when the number of native speakers of other
languages, e.g. Chinese, are considered (Havir,
1999; Kerstjens, 2000).