How To Avoid Common Mistakes Writing An MLA Synthesis Essay


A synthesis essay is a written discussion that derives upon one or several sources. This type of writing requires you to infer relationships that exist among various sources such as articles, essays, fiction, and non-written sources like interviews, lectures, and observations. While these facts may not be new to most students, it is unfortunate that many students still can’t avoid making some common mistakes when writing a synthesis paper. Here are some few tips on how to avoid common mistakes, especially when writing an MLA synthesis paper.

  • Dropped Quotes
  • When writing a synthesis paper, you will be using a lot of information from other sources, one of the common mistakes most students commit is the use of dropped quotes. Dropped quotes refer to quotations that do not have introductions or lead-ins. You should avoid this mistake because it can disrupt the coherency of your paper and make it look choppy or jumpy. Dropped quotes often leave the reader to figure out the connection between the point you are trying to put across and the quotation you have inserted. You should try to briefly note the writer’s credentials if it’s the first time you are using a source.

  • Purpose
  • The purpose of reading the resource materials and drawing upon the source materials to write a synthesis paper is usually reflected in the assignment’s wording. For instance, the task may require that you argue a certain position, evaluate a piece of text, explain some cause and effect relationship, or compare and contrast issues. While you can use similar sources to write a compare/contrast paper as another student uses in writing an argumentative paper, you should make different uses of the sources on the basis of the different purposes of the assignment tasks.

  • Using Sources
  • Another common mistake when writing an MLA synthesis paper is the use of sources. Your purpose will dictate not only what sections of your sources you use, but also how you relate the sources to one another. You must establish some grounds on which to combine sources because the fundamental essence of a synthesis paper is combining ideas and information. Some relationships in the materials must be worth synthesizing. Being able to effectively discover these relationships helps to use the sources in writing the synthesis paper more effectively. The purpose of writing will dictate how you combine and relate the sources you have with one another.