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NURSING 412: Adult Health II

Synthesizing information

Synthesis is different from summarizing. A section of your paper will be devoted to summarizing each article (problem/purpose, design, sample, methods, findings, implications, limitations), but the most important part of your paper will be a synthesis of the relevant information from the studies into a cohesive whole, which you apply to your problem/purpose. Here’s a good definition (Shellenbarger, 2016):

[Synthesis] involves taking information from a variety of sources, evaluating that information and forming new ideas or insights in an original way.

When reading your studies, keep these critical questions in mind, and be prepared to answer in your synthesis (Shellenbarger, 2016):

  • What is the purpose of the reading?
  • What issues are raised?
  • What evidence is given?
  • Why is this important?
  • What are the implications?
  • What are the strengths?
  • What are the weaknesses?
  • How is this reading like others I have read?
  • How is this reading different than the other articles?
  • What might be influencing the findings?
  • What common elements are seen?
  • What information is missing?
  • What are the gaps?

When you write the synthesis portion of your paper, you will focus on the ideas or themes from the different articles within the body of your paragraphs. You will NOT summarize the information from each study for this part.

For more guidance on synthesis, the following links may help:

Literature matrices

As you read your research studies, it may be helpful to use a matrix to take notes to help you analyze, organize, and synthesize your thoughts about the studies. The first matrix (below) can be used to collect relevant information about each study, showing you at a glance how they pertain to your question/purpose. The second matrix can be used once you’ve identified the key themes or ideas from the studies and want an overview of how they compare and complement each other.

APA web links

American Psychological Association- has some useful, free tools it provides regarding APA style:

Print APA guide

A print copy of the most recent edition of the APA Style is kept behind the Circulation Desk, on the first floor of the Library, for in-library use. Ask for it by call number.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th Ed. - Permanent Reserve BF76.7 .P83 2010

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