Becky Menendez

Educational Technologist & Instructional Designer

Synthesis Unit: Introduction

In this unit, you will learn how to synthesize ideas and information from multiple sources into a short written composition.  This unit was designed to take place in a computer lab with an instructor present; however, all necessary materials have been made available for download within these unit pages.  In other words, you can work through the steps from just about anywhere, at your own pace.

The Section Menu contains links to each page in this unit.  Each page corresponds with one of the steps of synthesis and contains an application activity for you to complete so that you can check your work against a completed model.

Before we go into much detail on how to do synthesis, let’s take a moment to first review what synthesis is.


What is synthesis?

Synthesis involves reading multiple sources of information (often published studies) that address a particular topic and pointing out the important information they provide about the topic.  The purpose of synthesis is to highlight the information that is relevant and important to your own work or research.  Synthesis may also involve drawing and stating conclusions about similarities and differences in the sources you review and connecting them to your own research.


What synthesis is NOT:

Synthesis is not simply a compilation of detailed article summaries or reviews.  Synthesis requires thoughtful organization of the information in your sources–sometimes combining, sometimes building upon each other, sometimes contrasting with one another.  Synthesis reveals relationships between sources.


Introducing the steps

This unit will introduce you to a step-by-step process you can use to synthesize information from several sources.  Your instructor should have handed out a paper copy of the Step-by-Step Synthesis Guide.  If not, you can download and view a copy by clicking on the link below:


Watching the steps in action

Now let’s take a quick look at how these steps can be used to complete a common, real-life synthesis task:  a literature review.


Are you ready to walk through the process yourself?  Let’s get started!



Fry, A. (n.d.). How to synthesize articles for a paper [PowerPoint slides].  Retrieved from

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