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How to Synthesize Articles for a Paper - UMass Lowell

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How to Synthesize Articles for a Paper
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Steps in this tutorial
1) State goals of this tutorial2) What does it mean to synthesize3) Why synthesizing is important4) How to, and not to, synthesize5) Detailed example of synthesizing articles
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Goal
This tutorial explains what synthesizing articles meansIt explains why this is an important and useful skill in psychology writingIt discusses common mistakes students make in attempting to synthesize articlesIt gives an example of how to synthesize articles
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Objectives
By the end of this tutorial you should be able toArticulate what it means to synthesize an article or articles in your own workDescribe why that is importantActually synthesize articles in yourown writing
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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What does it mean to “Synthesize Articles”
It means that in your literature review you examine a number of studies on a shared topic and note aspects that are of interest for your own workIt also may mean that you draw and state a conclusion about the similarities and differences in the studies you review
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Why is synthesizing important?
Synthesizing articles is a crucial skill in psychology writingIt is important for a number of reasons:It is efficient—there is no reason for the reader to read all the articles you describe, since you are synthesizing themIt allows you to highlight what was important toyouabout those articles
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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How to synthesize articles?
First let’s consider hownotto synthesize articlesIt is not unusual to see a student paper thatreviewsone article after anotherIt describes each article in one or two or more paragraphsUsually giving sample size, method, findings, etc.Often in some detailThis isnota synthesis
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Hownotto synthesize articles
Simply writing a detailed summary of one article after another is not a synthesisAlso it is often boring and confusing for the readerA synthesis gives enough information about the study for the reader to imagine itBut really highlights what isimportantabout the study for your paperAnd notes what is similar and important across several studiesThis helps orient your reader to what is important to youAnd avoids boring your reader with a lot of unnecessary detail
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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How to Synthesize Articles
It is possible to synthesize multiple articles in one paragraphYou note the shared issue across the articles that you want to call attention toNote any important differences that are relevant to your studyAnd describe each article briefly in ways relevant to your study
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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How to Synthesize Articles: Example
Suppose you are writing a paper about canine aggressionYou read three articles about aggressive dogsOne thing you are interested in is how aggression in dogs has been assessed, and you want your reader to understand that there is variation in assessmentSo you synthesize what you have read to reflect this focus
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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How to Synthesize Articles: Example
You might say something like this:Research indicates that there are a number of approaches to assessing canine aggression. One study (Reisner,Shofer& Nance, 2007) of dog aggression towards children used retrospective review of aggressive incidents reported to a veterinary clinic, and included a systematic categorization of the types and circumstances of the incidents. A study specifically focusing on comparing variation in aggression across several different breeds employed a standardized survey measure of general aggressive behaviors, which is based on owner report of canine aggression (Duffy, Hsu &Serpel, 2008). Another study reported the use of a standardized assessment of very specific aggressive behavior (food guarding), using an assessment method that can be used by either owners or professionals (Mohan-Gibbons, Weiss & Slater, 2012). All the methods yielded valid results as noted by each study, but the standardized measures appeared to be more efficient and easier to use with non-professionals.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Notes on the Example
Not all the articlesfocusedon assessing aggressionBut they did include assessmentThat was what you were interested in, so youfocusedon that aspectYou did not give many details about each studyYou did not say, for example, exactly which breeds, or even exactly how many dogs were in each studyYou did say something about each type of assessmentYou also included a conclusion about how assessments were performed and what type of assessment might be more or less useful
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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How to Synthesize Articles- Comments
Synthesizing takes practiceYou need to know whatyouare focused on in your own study in order to synthesize articles for itYou need to know what parts of an article are of use to your own study, and what parts are notYou need to draw a conclusion for the reader, so the reader will know what is important about the studies you have summarized
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Summary
This tutorial focused on how to synthesize articlesIt explained what this meansIt explained why it is important in psychology writingIt discussed waysnotto synthesize articlesIt described how to do so correctly, and gave an example
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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References
Duffy, D.L., Hsu, Y., &Serpell, J.A. (2008). Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 114, 441-460.Mohan-Gibbons, H., Weiss, E., Slater, M. (2012). Preliminary investigation of food guarding behavior in shelter dogs in the United States. Animals, 2, 331-346.Reisner, I.R.,Shofer, F.S. & Nance, M.L. (2007). Behavioral assessment of child directed canine aggression. Injury Prevention, 13, 348- 351.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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How to Synthesize Articles for a Paper - UMass Lowell