Synthesis Notes: Working With Sources To Create a First Draft was written By Erika Szymanski
Synthesis notes are a strategy for taking and using reading notes that bring together—synthesize—what we read with our thoughts about our topic in a way that lets us integrate our notes seamlessly into the process of writing a first draft. Six steps will take us from reading sources to a first draft.
When we read, it is easy to take notes that don’t help us build our own arguments when we move from note-taking to writing. In high school, most of us learned to take notes that summarize readings. Summarizing works well when the purpose of our notes is to help us memorize information quickly for a test. When we read in preparation for writing a research-supported argument, however, summarizing is inefficient because our notes don’t reflect how our sources fit into our argument. We have to return to our sources and try to recall why and how we saw them contribute to our thinking.