Research-Supported Argumentative Synthesis Assignment Sheet
What is an Argumentative Synthesis?
c: the combining of often diverse conceptions into a coherent whole; also: the complex so formed
- an address or composition intended to convince or persuade; persuasive discourse.
An argumentative synthesis combines synthesis and argumentative skills in order to examine a topic, summarize varying opinions surrounding that topic, and then present your own argument based on those varying opinions and your own research.
Regarding the synthesis component Stephen Wilhoit explains, “In a synthesis you combine information from two or more readings to support a position of your own” (171) and “…Try to present other people’s ideas or findings as clearly and concisely as you can, highlighting key similarities and differences” (195). Critical to synthesis is this idea of noting where authors agree and disagree in a clear and coherent way using meaningful transitions.
In regards to the argumentative component, after synthesizing your sources, transition into your own opinion and use the rhetorical strategies to persuade the audience, integrate both supportive evidence from sources as well as opposing positions, and organize the information in a logical and coherent way.
The research-supported argumentative synthesis provides students the opportunity to collect research, synthesize texts and argue their own opinion. Additionally, this particular assignment allows students to create an essay that combines all of the skills that were required and practiced for each assignment up until this point.
Students will begin by determining a research question based on their readings from The Engaged Reader. The research question should center on a problem and a solution (For example: “Why is the extinction of honey bees a problem?” and “What are plausible solutions?”). After determining a research question(s), students will begin the research process in order to find, evaluate and integrate primary and secondary sources.
You must use all of the following sources within your essay: At least two of the readings from The Engaged Reader; at least five (5) credible, legitimate sources; and a total of at least seven (7) sources. The sources can be used in different ways: some can be part of background information; others can help you support your position; still others should represent opposing views.
Once you have synthesized your sources opinions regarding the problem and possible solutions, choose a side and use your own explanations and supporting evidence to argue that your solution is the best solution to the problem. In class we discussed the necessary components needed to create a logical, formal and organized argument.
The basic structure of the essay is as follows:
- An introduction including:
- A hook
- Explanation of the problem
- The relevance of the problem
- Debatable thesis statement that includes a possible solution
- A synthesis section including:
- Brief summaries of all sources
- An explanation of similarities and differences between the sources
- An argumentative sections including
- Body paragraph proving the validity of the problem
- Body paragraphs that provide support for your proposed solution(s)
- Topic sentences
- Correctly cited evidence
- Appropriate integration of the evidence
- Counter-Claims including
- Examples of counter-claims
- A clear explanation of possible opposing opinions
- Either a refutation (disproves completely) or concession (concedes to a point)
- A conclusion that
- Sums up the main ideas
- Restates the thesis
- Offers a call to action for the audience
- A Work Cited page that
- Includes all referenced materials
A successful argumentative synthesis will include all of the following:
- A clear introduction to the problem
- A debatable thesis that includes a possible solution
- Brief, accurate summarization of the original texts (as needed)
- Clear synthesis of the similarities and differences within the sources
- Topic sentences with meaningful transitions
- Support of your position with valid evidence/examples
- Inclusion of counterarguments with either a rebuttals or concessions
- Body paragraph transitions to move from one point to another
- Appropriate and accurate integration of all sources
- Proper citation of all direct quotes and paraphrased materials
- Exclusion of logical fallacies
- A persuasive conclusion
- Formal, non-inflammatory language
- Meaningful and interesting vocabulary and verb use
- Few mechanical or grammatical errors
- Literary present tense and grammatical 3rd person
- Correct formatting and MLA
- Correct Work Cited page
- A page length that is 7-10 pages
- Contains the basic requirements for an argumentative synthesis
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Many students make the mistake of simply repeating the suggestions of other authors instead of coming up with their own calls for action. If those arguments were sufficient, why does your chosen injustice continue to be a problem? When considering the suggestions of other authors on your given topic, try to use your knowledge of various arguments and rhetorical devices to make an even more effective call to action.
- Sometimes, students fail to persuade their readers because they do not accurately represent an opposing argument. Therefore, as you write your paper, you should spend as much time considering various legitimate counter-arguments as you do your own, so that your argument is as persuasive as possible. If your readers can see that you’ve considered a wide range of diverse viewpoints, they will be more likely to value your position as reasonable and impartial.
- Try to keep your audience in mind as you write and revise your essay, especially when recommending actions that could be taken to affect your chosen problem. For instance, if you’re writing to address the problem of wasted gasoline used by students who drive to campus instead of walking, riding bikes, or taking the bus, it will be unconvincing to a student audience to simply say, “Students should ride their bikes more often.” Think deeper—what exactly keeps students from riding their bikes? (Heat? Convenience? Speed?) You need to craft recommendations that people might actually do, argued persuasively to consider possible objections they might have.