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Synthesis Research Paper
Length: 5 to 7 pages, not counting the Works Cited page. No cover page.
Due: submitted through Course Activities>Assignments>
Research Paper. Since this is the final paper and grades need to be turned in, you be losing a letter grade for every day the paper is late.
Format: Times NR, 12 point font, 1”margins, no extra space between paragraphs, each paragraph signaled with an indentation.
Sources: at least five sources that must come from the Lone Star College Library research databases. You cannot use Google or the Internet at large, as those sources have generally not been peer-reviewed or filtered. Initially, when you are doing your research, I would look for more than five, as you will probably find that some of them may not be as helpful as it seemed they would.
Citation form: MLA, with a Works Cited page, and internal parenthetical citation any time you bring up an idea from any source, whether you quote it or paraphrase it. For help with your MLA, google Purdue Owl MLA. Since you will be using the article databases only available through the LSC library, you will all be using the form called “An Article from an Online Database,” which you can google as well with Purdue owl mla.
Assignment: Choose one of the options below:
Write a paper on someone who is successful in a field you are interested in, either professionally (as in your major) or as a hobby. In addition to the person’s biography, you should also include how that person was original in the field (what he or she did different from the people who came before) and, in a separate paragraph, the long lasting impact that person has had in the field. You cannot write about athletes, as these are already too-easy cultural heroes, or politicians. I’d like to learn how to search out people whose lives can actually help you figure out your own. As you read your sources, topics you could look for could include your subject’s early years, apprentice years, big breakthrough, trouble years, mission, criticism from others, influence on the field or any other topics that come up in your research. The best databases for this one from the school’s website: Academic Search Complete (EBSCO).
Or if this pandemic has been rough on you or your family, or you would just like to learn how to be more positive and peaceful in your life, then write your research paper on positive self-care in the time of Covid. Using EBSCO, type in the search box: pandemic and the topic you would like to deal with. Topics I searched out for you that did find some sources include: anxiety, stress, loneliness, psychology, isolation, mental health, gratitude. (The term “self care” was actually helpful as it brought up a lot of medical self-care articles.) If your topic is not coming up, then try the search without the word “pandemic.” More general terms I found a lot of sources for include: grieving, mindfulness, stress reduction, insomnia. Your paper will then be collecting advice on how to manage or deal with this issue.
If you were enjoying writing on poetry, feel free to write your research paper on any of the poetry of any of the poets I’ve had you read so far, or write a research paper on either the poetry of Mary Oliver or Rumi. You could give some biography for the poet but then I would like you to discuss a poem or two in more detail (and not ones you wrote on already), especially in helping you discuss the poet’s view of life or art. Helpful databases: Literature Resource Center (Gale), Literary Reference Center (EBSCO), Bloom’s Literature, JSTOR, Academic Search Complete.
Where to Get Your Sources: Your sources need to be from the LSC library page [Lonestar, Libraries, Find Articles). At some point in the research, it will ask for the barcode on the back of your ID. If you don’t have one, you’ll see at the bottom of that page to type in your d2l username and password, which will work just as well.
The Thesis Statement: You’ll develop your thesis statement based on any common elements among your sources. For this reason, you probably won’t be able to know your thesis statement until you are reading through your sources. Remember that there needs to be some focus on your thesis. It could be about your subject’s vision about life or the impact they had. You don’t have to bring up your critics in the thesis because they will be mentioned in the body paragraphs of your essay. If you are writing about a person, try to give us something more specific than a lot of critics have written about her. For instance, it would be too vague to write, “Elon Musk is an important person.” A more focused one would be “Elon Musk is one of the few technology entrepreneurs to have a mission to help society and that has affected every project he’s been involved in.” Also, like in your other papers, the thesis statement should go at the end of your first paragraph.
Organization: Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that clearly supports your thesis. A good length for a paragraph should be between 6 and 9 sentences. Most of the discussion posts you’ve done this semester have been a good example of the paragraph in this type of essay. In a synthesis essay, your paragraphs should be grouped under topics you’ve come up with yourself. If you notice that three of your sources discuss bird imagery and this point somehow supports your thesis, you could write a paragraph on that. You should not in a synthesis essay organize your paragraphs so that each one covers a different article you use. Your job is to reorganize the points from your research so that each paragraph will usually have similar points from different articles grouped under one topic (such as bird imagery). For further explanation see the following Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WoLGkVk4x4
Your Own Ideas: Feel free to expand upon an idea from one of your critics or to offer your own support from the story or poem that the critic doesn’t bring up. If you believe a critic is missing a point and this is relevant to your thesis statement, you are free to offer your own critique of the critic’s idea. Remember though that the majority of the points from your sources need to support your thesis.
Reading your sources: Of course, before you read your sources, you should make sure you have read the poem or short story the critics will be discussing. Otherwise, their points won’t make sense. Then after that, you’ll be reading the sources, looking for common elements that may become your thesis statement and the points of your paper. I am going to recommend and require a very strict process of taking notes from your sources. Whenever you find a point you like from one of your articles, you should highlight it on the page, and then in a separate document, either handwritten or in your computer, you should jot down the name of the author of the source, offer a brief summary of the idea or a quote of the sentences expressing it (being VERY careful in your notes to indicate to yourself whether it’s a quote or a paraphrase) and the page from which you got it. Then, and this is the most important idea here, give that page a heading of your own choosing (such as “the Grandmother as a fake Christian” or, for option 2, “Christopher Nolan’s apprentice years”). What my hope would be is that as you are reading a totally different source, you will find another reference to bird imagery (or how Nolan changed the superhero movie), written by an entirely different critic, and you can then highlight and on the same page as you wrote the other source (your original “Grandmother as fake Christian” page), jot down the quote and information from this second critic. This process is basically re-organizing the ideas from different critics into topics of your own choosing, with I hope each topic (such as “Nolan’s apprentice years”) containing ideas from different critics. You should by the end of the process have numerous sheets of paper (or index cards combined together, or topics in your Word file), each category with a heading (such as “Grandmother as a fake Christian,” “the grandmother’s breakthrough moment” or for option 2, “Nolan’s trouble years,” and “Nolan’s big breakthrough” and so on). This is what synthesis means, to recombine sources into new categories. Each category might then become a paragraph or section of your paper. Thus, this process will give you in the end something much like an outline. I’ll remind you that for option 2, some categories you could look for while you are reading your sources could include your subject’s biography, apprentice years, big breakthrough, trouble years, mission, criticism from others, influence on the field. You will probably find other topics as you read your sources. This is what synthesis means, to recombine sources into new categories. Each category might then become a paragraph or section of your paper. Thus, this process will give you in the end something much like an outline.
This process is vital to any research paper. If you can stay this organized in your note-taking you will save hours of time and not feel overwhelmed by your sources. The first time I had to write a synthesis essay, I sat down on my bed to read through all my sources and by the third source, I was soon overwhelmed. I’d forgotten which idea came from where and there were so many ideas floating around in my head that I could feel myself getting quickly discouraged. Then I remembered my professor discussing this note taking process and I got up from my bed and went to my desk with a stack of scratch paper and started over reading with my sources, this time highlighting the ideas and writing them down in my notes, categorizing each idea as I suggest above. By the time I finished my third source, I had eight or nine sheets of paper, each with a different category. I took a break to go for a run to clear my head and came home to read through my next three sources. In a few hours, I had in effect a detailed outline for my full paper. Moreover, that horrible feeling of being overwhelmed and confused by my sources blending in my mind went away by the moment reading my second source when I found an idea I’d already made a topic for from the first source.
This process is so important that I’ll be requiring you do this process as part of two discussion posts. You can either send me a PDF of your handwritten notes, or JPG’s of each page (or grouping of index cards if you choose to do it that way), or, if you choose to do this in a Word document, just send me that. I won’t be grading the content of your ideas here but for how many points you have under each category.