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Assignment #3—Understanding and Synthesizing Texts:
How to Succeed in ____________
In this assignment, you’ll use a variety of sources to explain to readers how to succeed in a particular field, area, or activity. Your topic might be college-related, career-related, or personal interest-related. Be sure your topic is appropriate for gaining additional credible sources, as your audience is other CMU students.
The title and focus of your essay should be very specific in order to fit the scope of this assignment. Examples titles might include the following:
How to Make the Most of Internships and Field Experiences as an Undergraduate Student at CMU
How to Use Growth-Mindset to Increase Academic Achievement as a College Student
How to Succeed in Choosing a Meaningful College Major in the Business Field
How to Balance Your Academic Life and Social Life as a College Student at CMU
How to Succeed as a New College Graduate in the Field of Advertising
How to Succeed in Building Endurance as a Recreational Runner
How to Succeed in Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
In this assignment, you will summarize and synthesize information from several sources and clearly and coherently explain how to succeed in some field, area, or activity to readers who are not already familiar with the information. It builds on what you learned in ENG 101 about writing from multiple sources (e.g., summary, paraphrase, and quotation), but it also reinforces the critical thinking skills of analysis and synthesis as well as source citation.
Assignment Instructions
Your paper should be 7-9 pages in length and include information from 6 sources related to your topic. Your content should emerge from a summary and synthesis of source content, combined with your own personal knowledge about the topic. Part of the challenge of synthesizing information from multiple sources is making strategic decisions about what information to include and what not to include; often, the latter decision is more difficult than the former. For example, if you were to explain how to succeed in the college application process to students in a high school science class, consider why these readers might need or want this information.
In addition to including information based on your own knowledge and experience, use a combination of quotations and paraphrasing from your sources; as you should have learned in ENG 101, all information from sources—whether quoted, paraphrased, or summarized, whether words or images—must be cited. Keep in mind, though, that your voice, not your sources’, should be most prominent in your report.
Include any appropriate visuals that will enhance the effectiveness of your report. Use of visuals in this assignment is optional. All borrowed visuals must be cited. Do not include gratuitous visuals, such as clip art; include only visuals that convey relevant meaning and help readers understand the information.
You can choose MLA or APA style for this paper. Regardless of the citation style you choose, remember to cite sources within the paper and also on a Works Cited or References page at the end of your paper.
Characteristics of a Synthesis:
1. In the intro:
-Begin with some sentences that identify your overall topic.
-Provide some summary-type sentences that link the various sources together. (EXAMPLE: This collection of sources examines X, Y, Z….)
-End with a thesis statement that sums up the focus of your essay: What’s your informed opinion on the topic, in relation to the sources? What do you want your readers to understand and why?
2. Divide your paper into separately-titled sections:
-Separate summaries (one for each source).
-Synthesis (this will be the longest part of your paper; it can also be multiple sections.)
-Conclusion
3. Your synthesis section/s should:
-Explore potential patterns of difference between the sources. (What kinds of evidence do the texts present? Do they place emphasis on certain ideas or concepts?)
-Explore potential points of connection between the sources. (What kinds of evidence do the texts present? Do they place emphasis on certain ideas or concepts?)
-Incorporate quotations, summary, and paraphrase from your sources (using APA or MLA style) to illustrate your discussion.
-Fill in with your interpretations, observations, and relevant personal experiences. That is, connect to the source content.
4. The conclusion should:
-Remind your readers of significant themes within the sources.
-Remind your readers how these themes connect to your topic.
-Close in a memorable fashion, still supporting your thesis.

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