4.4 Informative vs. Argumentative Synthesis

Svetlana Zhuravlova

In academic research and writing, synthesizing the information from the obtained available resources results in novelty, discovery, reaching the common sense on a debatable issue, clarifying the perplexity of the subject under discussion, or making the point on a controversial topic. Your rhetorical goal for writing a synthesis essay will be identified by the given assignment. In your First-Year Writing courses, you may write an Informative/Explanatory Synthesis and/or an Argumentative Synthesis.

What Is an Informative/Explanatory Synthesis?

In informative writing, you are explaining the discussion points and topics to your readers without taking a position of one side or another, without showing your opinion. Even if the topic is debatable and highly controversial, instead of promoting your personal opinion, you have to objectively introduce the ideas of others and explain and show how their information is related to each other’s, as well as how the information may connect and diverge. You are not showing your agreement with some authors and disagreement with the others. You should stay neutral both in your comments on the found information and in your conclusions reached at the end of the discussion.

  • Example: Numerous authors wonder if this is a natural progression over time because of the laws that have changed or a shift in ideals that redefine what free speech is supposed to be… Author N believes that [free speech] is not controlled enough in the interest of the people, while Authors B and D believe that, in an ideal world, opinions would be formed and spoken without repercussion and merely be a part of language…

 At the end of the discussion, draw your neutral conclusion on the topic:

  • Example: The question of if speech has become limited, affecting the right to freedom of speech, lies in the hands of the people and the justice system itself.

What Is an Argumentative Synthesis?

Everything you learned about Argumentative Writing in the chapters of this textbook is true and valid for writing an Argumentative Synthesis. The main difference may be that you are to support your ideas with evidence found in multiple sources, show and explain how the authors’ opinions relate, and discuss which of your authors agree and disagree on the controversial issue, while your comments on the information retrieved from these sources and your conclusions will clarify your own position in the debate.

First, you start the debate with the assertion that sets the goal for the debate, its controversy:

  • Example: Societal changes are a large part of the debate on free speech and its limitationsThe debate is about whether offensive speech should be punished when it is said with the intent to psychologically harm a group or person, or if immoral or scandalous speech should be off-limits.

Then, you are moderating the debate among the experts:

  • Professor of Law E disagrees…
  • His thought is echoed by Professor R from the University of …
  • Authors F and S also discuss and assess…
  • Following in their steps, Authors D and T express…
  • Unfortunately, in opposition to their respect, Author X asserts that…
  • This brings us back to the viewpoint of Authors F and S, who argue that…

Finally, conclude the discussion and finalize your position:

  •  Thus, hateful and immoral speech—which typically associates itself with low value because of harmful words—will continue to find its limitations in the world even if it is not through government operations… 

When you synthesize, you are a part of the discussion and a leader of the discussion that you have initiated. You are introducing the voices and ideas of others, so you should be flexible and fair to all participating authors. You should avoid personal attack, as well as other logical fallacies in your comments on the information borrowed from your source materials.

Attributions: Informative vs. Argumentative Synthesis by Svetlana Zhuravlova is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. It has been further edited and re-mixed by Dr. Adam Falik and Dr. Doreen Piano for the LOUIS OER Dual Enrollment course development program to create “English Composition II” and has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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4.4 Informative vs. Argumentative Synthesis Copyright © 2022 by Svetlana Zhuravlova is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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