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Library Research for Students

This guide is for Seneca students completing a research assignment.

What Does it Mean to Synthesize Your Sources?

Synthesizing research sources in your assignment means that you are writing about various sources together instead of separately.

Let's look at an example of how you can bring research together to build your own argument.:

a library search for the terms: immigration and jobs and canada

When you search your topic immigration and jobs in canada in Library Search, you may get hundreds of articles and books. Each article and book may have a slightly different focus, for example:

  • an article about a new immigration program to help newcomers to Canada find employment
  • an article about foreign credentials not being recognized in Canada
  • an article about temporary employment and social inequality in Canada

At first glance these titles look unrelated. But they are all discussing issues that have to do with your research topic of immigration and jobs and Canada:

►The article about foreign credentials not being recognized and the article about temporary employment and social inequality both discuss barriers for newcomers to secure employment when they arrive in Canada.

►The article about new immigration programs will perhaps discuss a positive step forward to alleviate these struggles. Perhaps upon reading the article about the new immigration program, you may notice something about the program that you can comment on about how it will or will not be ultimately helpful, given what you read in the other two articles.

Tips to Synthesize Research Sources

Synthesizing your sources isn't just about mentioning them in the same paragraph, it's about relating them to each other.

Unsynthesized Example 

Franz (2008) studied undergraduate online students. He looked at 17 females and 18 males and found that none of them liked APA. According to Franz, the evidence suggested that all students are reluctant to learn citations style. Perez (2010) also studies undergraduate students. She looked at 42 females and 50 males and found that males were significantly more inclined to use citation software (p < .05). Findings suggest that females might graduate sooner. Goldstein (2012) looked at British undergraduates. Among a sample of 50, all females, all confident in their abilities to cite and were eager to write their dissertations.

Examples as SimplyPsychology

Synthesized Example 

Studies of undergraduate students reveal conflicting conclusions regarding relationships between advanced scholarly study and citation efficacy. Although Franz (2008) found that no participants enjoyed learning citation style, Goldstein (2012) determined in a larger study that all participants watched felt comfortable citing sources, suggesting that variables among participant and control group populations must be examined more closely. Although Perez (2010) expanded on Franz's original study with a larger, more diverse sample...

In the Unsynthesized Example, the author simply lists the findings of each study one after the other.

In the Synthesized Example, the author related the studies to each other through comparing results (i.e., comparing Franz to Goldstein), as well as including how one study built on the evidence of another (i.e. the author claims Perez has expanded on Franz's study)