Answered By: Writing Center
Last Updated: Nov 10, 2015     Views: 1

In different writing situations, synthesis can look very different, but writers will in some way indicate the relationship between ideas.
The following is an extended example that is particularly apt for synthesis in Bowling Green State University's first-year writing courses, but the principles are applicable to other writing situations.
There are strong ethical reasons that 10 new highway bridges should be built in Madison County. Robert Thiminton asserts that not replacing infrastructure that is, 'in some places, more than 50 years old, undermines the state's duty to ensure the safety of citizens for whose lives it is entrusted responsibility' (191). Here, Thiminton promotes the notion that governments take responsibility to maintain state-funded infrastructure as part of the social contract which provides its ethical and cultural legitimacy. Similarly, Shirley Guarondack argues that 'the loss of life from even one bridge failure is tantamount to moral bankruptcy because such an event is entirely preventable' (809). Both arguments invoke the necessity of replacing bridges in order to save lives, but while Thiminton frames this as a social duty, Guarondack interprets it as an overarching moral imperative. Whatever the grounds, it is clear that not replacing these bridges is an imminent threat to human life and safety.
This is a complex version of synthesis because it points out both differences and similarities between the two authors rather than one or the other. Note that, in this example, the primary moment of synthesis comes towards the end of the paragraph in a sentence where these similarities and differences are given names and classified (bold font). But, as is often the case with good synthesis, the writer gives the audience hints about the relationships between ideas beforehand, and there are other places in the paragraph where the relationship between the cited ideas and the writer's purpose is indicated (italic font).

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