Researching and Synthesizing Strategies in Essay Writing

The following are a few ways to find and read information on your topic:

(1) Skim – Look for key words
(2) Highlight – Once you find relevant information, highlight it.

Once you have gathered enough information and eliminated any irrelevant sources, you must synthesize (join together) all the information you have. Your essay will contain support from your sources. Be sure to include a parenthetical “in text” citation to credit the source where you found the information you use as support.

Below are two ways to synthesize information:

Summarize – a condensed restatement of the author’s most important ideas; to briefly explain the information in your own words

Original Text: Standing as one of the most-heinous hate crimes ever, the lynching-style murder of James Byrd Jr. at the hands of three White men in Texas served as a painful reminder that racism was very much alive in America, even on the cusp of the 21st century. On June 7, 1998, the 49-year-old Byrd would find himself on a Texas road near the town of Jasper at night, when a trio of men, Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer, and John King, offered him a ride. It was later reported that Byrd and Berry knew each other. The friendly gesture turned deadly, though, when the men savagely beat Byrd and chained his ankles to the back of the pickup truck Berry was driving, dragging him three miles over asphalt and road and causing severe injuries. Byrd was said to be conscious during most of the harrowing ordeal, finally dying by way of a decapitation after his body hit a culvert in the road. ~ by D.L. Chandler of on page 1 (page on a website)

Your summary: ________________________________________________________________________________

Paraphrase – a restatement of the author’s ideas in your own words

Original Text: Mother Teresa was a Catholic missionary nun who became known for her work with the poor. Although she assisted poverty-stricken people throughout the world, she is most closely identified with her work in the crowded slums of Calcutta (modern-day Kolkata), India, which earned her the informal title “Saint of the Gutters.” In 1982, during the siege of Beirut, Lebanon, she negotiated a cease-fire between Israeli and Palestinian forces. This cease-fire allowed her to evacuate mentally handicapped patients from a hospital on the front lines of the battle. During her lifetime she received several major awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. ~ by Julie L. Carnagie from “Mother Teresa” in the World Religions Reference Library on page 351 (online database)

Your paraphrase: ____________________________________________________________________________