Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review
Conference Proposals and Article Types
Inexperienced academic authors often struggle with the recommendation that they synthesize the research. The reason for this is that synthesis is a cognitively challenging task. Some simple indicators that you are not synthesizing are: (1) writing that reads more like a list, (2) page after page of text with few or no headings and subheadings, (3) work clustered by author or date rather than themes or patterns, (4) excessive use of direct (and sometimes lengthy) quotations, (5) little effort to transition from one idea to the next, and (6) absence of evaluative commentary (i.e., strengths/weaknesses, comparison/contrast, interpretation/implications).
To better understand synthesis, consider the following metaphor. Imagine you have just participated in a panel discussion consisting of five professors discussing the same, important issue in your field. The beginning portion of your literature review would be similar to the panel moderator who initiates the discussion and sets the tone for the conversation with some remarks. The main sections of your literature review would be similar to the theme and focus selected by each of the speakers to frame their presentation and their areas of agreement and disagreement. The conclusion would comparable to the moderator’s closing remarks that acknowledge the areas of agreement and disagreement, yet provide a sense of closure to the discussion. Some tools for achieving synthesis are in Activity 5.4.
Activity 5.4: Practical Ways to Attain Greater Synthesis
After authors can cite studies, people, dates, theories, and historical trends, they have command of the literature. Nevertheless, a common statement after arriving at that point is some version of, “Okay, I have all of this information—now, what do I do with it?” Some practical strategies follow.
Refer to Richard Toracco’s (2011) “Writing an Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples”. http://docseminar2.wikispaces.com/file/view/Literature+review+paper_Torraco.pdf.