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GO111 Maisel: Intro to American Government and Politics: Synthesize

This stage of the research process

At the college level, it's not enough to simply report on other researchers' findings. You should look for commonalities and points of tension between the articles you read and organize your literature review based on these ideas, which shows you understand the broader picture of the field. You also need to be sure to accurately cite the ideas of others so that people can follow your trail.

Synthesizing Information

Literature reviews are different than summaries. Instead of condensing other people's arguments, you are looking for common threads within the body of work you have read. This requires you to look for ideas that are repeated across multiple sources. This doesn't necessarily mean that scholars agree about the idea, but that it's a common topic of discussion. Some people find these ideas by filling in a matrix noting when a reference brings up an idea that fits within a particular theme.

UNC has a more in-depth overview of writing a literature review that can be useful to orient you to this type of writing. Writing Center tutors should also be able to help you develop this skill.

Citing Information

You should cite any time you are using another researchers words, ideas, or data. When in doubt, cite.

Use a consistent style for your citations. You can consult the Purdue OWL for generally accurate citation information. If you have a tricky issue, come to Miller to check in the relevant citation manual.

I recommend using a citation manager like Zotero. This can keep your references together as you are writing, and then format citations for you. Just be sure to double-check- mistakes happen fairly often but are also usually fairly obvious.

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