12.2 Analyzing Another Article
Now that you have annotated one academic article, read a second scholarly text on your topic and annotate it with the additional goal of including synthesis.
As we practice reading and deconstructing academic articles, we are practicing a general form of textual analysis, orcontent analysis. Our grid connects analysis with synthesis and can be useful in other assignments and literature reviews. Synthesis connects analyses and therefore requires analysis of at least two texts. At its simplest, synthesissays one thing that is supported by more than one analysis. If you are analyzing articles, a synthesis will connect the three analyses and describe the connection. If you do a close reading to analyze a source and argue for an interpretation of your analysis, a synthesis will connect your three interpretations. Different kinds of analyses can be synthesized.
Perhaps you write an analysis of Twilight and argue that the book is about the fear of aging. Then you analyze New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn and develop a thesis for each. You can synthesize those analyses to make an overall claim about the series (The series is about the contemporary obsession with youth). Perhaps you could even analyze the films to see if the claim you made about the book series applies to the film series (While the books emphasize an American obsession with youth, the movies are about the American obsession with romance). As you use text and context from a single source to analyze a text, you use analyses of multiple texts to create a synthesis. Expanding your claim (to include â€œAmericanâ€ for instance) requires a greatly expanded range of contextual evidence to support your expanded claim.
Achieving synthesis requires the creation of a thesis that draws from multiple analyses. Case studies, for instance, often analyze data to make claims and chart courses of action. Different fields or disciplines gather intelligence from multiple sources in different ways, but all fields rely on synthesis.
For example, if you are analyzing data on student success and note that female students are outperforming male students in relation to retention and completion, you may contextualize and interpret that data in an effort to understand and respond. Part of contextualizing the data is to include other data points, so perhaps you had another data point that told you more about the male students, such as whether they were active members of a club on campus. Looking at those two points together, you might learn that male students who joined clubs on campus were more likely to succeed. Then you could look at data from other universities to see if they replicated the findings or had other valuable pieces of information you could locate in relation to your sample population.
Perhaps exit survey data from a peer institution reported that many of the male students who were not succeeding responded to the question about how they spent much of their time by saying that they were gaming. You could create a survey to see if that was the case for your sample subjects. If your results suggested that gaming was impacting success and retention, you could discuss options for supporting this population of students. If you landed on a course of action, such as creating university-sponsored, competitive Esports teams, you would want to track the impact and connect your findings to other research, perhaps even by joining a large research study spanning multiple institutions.
Analysis and synthesis are foundational concepts and practices and are expected in universities and industry, but you also use them in your everyday activities and decisions. Understanding and applying basic concepts of analysis and synthesis can be very helpful when you are consuming and digesting any content, and they can be useful in relation to any situation when you want to gather information or make informed decisions, such as determining how to get people to join your group, locating funding for a project, making a major purchase, or looking for a job across markets. Specifically, the skill of analyzing texts and synthesizing data will apply across disciplines and beyond the university.
We started to look at synthesis in our 12.1 sample that connected the research of Anderson, Smith, and Dawson, but now we will have annotated two articles and can start to practice in preparation for the Analytic Exploration.
For Assignment 12.2, we will continue to practice summarizing and analyzing academic articles and will begin to practice synthesizing multiple academic articles. As you read your second academic article with the annotation template, immediate assignment, and Analytic Exploration in mind, note what you will need to complete the template for this assignment, but also note any connections or conflicts between the second academic article and the first. The topics connect, but how are the research questions, methods, and results similar or dissimilar? Specifically, does the thesis of this second article expand, refute, complicate, or replicate the results from your first academic article? Using those specific terms is not necessary, but it can be helpful. To begin, just focus on trying to connect the main finding of the two texts in one sentence.