Guidelines for the Preparation of a Synthesis



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Guidelines for the Preparation of a Synthesis




CRITITCAL AND CREATIVE THINKING PROGRAM
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS – BOSTON
Mona LiBlanc, Spring 2000, revised by Peter Taylor, Fall 2000, with small additions Fall 2001

After completing her own CCT Synthesis, Mona Liblanc assisted Delores Gallo in guiding students through to the completion of their Syntheses. This led her to write the first version of these guidelines ("Structural Standards for Preparing a Synthesis Project"). The Program is indebted to her for this ground-breaking work.



PART I. GUIDELINES THAT SHOULD BE ATTENDED TO AT THE START OF YOUR WORK ON THE SYNTHESIS
If you look ahead at Part II of these Guidelines (p. 12ff), which is based on "The Gray Book" (the Graduate School's Guidelines), their formal, academic character might lead you mistakenly to see the preparation of a Synthesis as meeting specialized standards of communication that you will likely never use again. Do not get involved in Part II at the start, for you run the risk of being diverted from your main task, namely, to do research for then write a piece of expository writing that is meant to have an effect on an audience that you define. This audience consists of potential readers over and above your faculty advisor and readers. Your primary goal is to communicate your ideas to the wider set of readers as powerfully as possible. My way of expressing this challenge is that your writing should "GOSP," Grab their attention, Orient them, and move them along in Steps so they appreciate—perhaps even endorse—the Position you have led them to. If the best way for you to accomplish this is to depart from the overall structure presented in these Guidelines, then, after consulting with your advisor or synthesis seminar instructor, do so. Conversely, following guidelines does not guarantee a satisfactory Synthesis. You can always expect your faculty advisor and readers—with the goal in mind of your communicating ideas to the wider readers as powerfully as possible—to ask you to revise until you have made clear what is distinctive and compelling about your work, work that we expect you to extend beyond your studies in CCT.
Initial formatting

Notwithstanding the advice in the previous paragraph, to avoid tedious editing later, you should establish at the outset:

• 1" margins all round

• format for levels of headings, starting with CHAPTER TITLES IN BOLD (see sect 1.37 of Turabian, K. L. (1996). A Manual For Writers of Term papers, Theses, and Disertations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press)

• use of commas and other punctuation (T 3.65-3.110)

• format for in text and block quotations and citing of references (see p. 5ff; also T 5.11-5.38).

• a consistent format for recording references you cite or might cite in the text (p. 10ff; for acceptable alternatives see Turabian chaps. 10-11);

You should also learn how to use your wordprocessor to produce a layout that is basically unchanged (except for the position of page breaks) if you change your font (or if there are slight differences among how printers render your font). To this end, minimize use of the tab key. Use the "ruler" for indenting the start of paragraphs, positioning block quotes, and centering chapter headings. Use tables for placement of columns on a page. The only exceptions to the no-tab guideline are i) aligning the text in a list (such as above), and ii) aligning the page numbers to the right margin in a table of contents.


Overall Structure of the Synthesis
The synthesis should pose a question or issue drawn from review of relevant literature (or the lack thereof) and provides a discussion which supports/refutes/analyzes/tests/compares and contrasts aspects of the issue/question from your perspective. Your analysis/discussion should be supported by quotes from relevant material from experts in the field(s) (including your own experiences, if applicable). The paper should conclude with a summary/synthesis of the discussion and offer your thoughts on potential future applications/considerations.
Each chapter, including the introduction, should provide a “preview/overview” of the material to follow in the opening paragraph(s). Each chapter should end with a “summation” or transition to the next chapter, providing the reader with the connection between what has been said and what is coming.
(Typical order of chapters)

1. Grab readers' attention and set the scene ("Introduction")

2. Locate your work in the context of what others have done ("Literature Review")

3-# Main chapters

#. Take stock of where you have come and indicate future directions ("Conclusion")
Refer to the excerpts that follow Part II for examples of the following key items.
CHAPTER 1 (SUBJECT, AUDIENCE, PURPOSE—"GOSP")
GOAL Set the stage for the reader to understand why you are exploring this issue/topic/question.

Invent an informative chapter title other than Introduction if possible.

Clearly and concisely introduce the issue(s)/topic(s)/question(s) you will address in the paper and why it is of interest to you.

Introduce the theories/premises (and their authors) which are the basis for your approach to this topic/issue/analysis.

Demonstrate how these authors' works are applicable to your topic.

Give a chapter by chapter preview of the contents of the rest of the paper.

Close this chapter with a paragraph (or two) which provides your reasons/purpose for selecting this topic.
CHAPTER 2 (LITERATURE REVIEW):
GOAL Provide background information on the applicable content areas from which you have drawn your topic.

(NOTE:If the entire project is a literature review, you may elect to devote one chapter per topic/field)

Open the chapter with an overview of the content areas to be covered.

Provide a concise review of the pertinent literature/research, including your support/opposition of the theories/findings of each "expert's" work you include. Several comparable authors/researchers may be discussed as a group.

Provide each person who is referenced with his/her/their “expert status” and describe the material's relevance (or lack of relevance) to your paper.

Close with a “summation” of the literature review and isolate those items which your applied to this paper.


Your Analysis/Study/Original Contribution (CHAPTER 3, CHAPTER 4, etc., as needed by the type of project):
GOAL Demonstrate your mastery of this content area within the domain of critical and creative thinking.

Each chapter:

opens with a concise “preview” of material to follow and your perspective on the topic

demonstrates your thinking/analysis on the topic, supported by evidence form the experts referenced in the literature review, your own experience, or the findings of your research

closes with a summation that encapsulates the ideas/lessons from this chapter, providing a natural transition to the next chapter.

CHAPTER x
GOAL Synthesize the material presented in the prior chapters, discuss the conclusions you have drawn, and indicate future directions that you or others might follow.

Invent an informative title, other than "Conclusion," if possible.

Open the chapter with a review of the purpose of your paper/project.

Discuss the findings/lessons/impact/etc. of your paper.

Speculate on future work or other approaches.

Close the chapter and the paper with your final reflection on this paper.


Physical Layout:

Do not use text justification that would create irregular spacing between words or lines of text.


Type font should be 12 point (10-15 strokes per inch) and a standard, professional font such as New Times Roman.
The text is typed using double spacing. Although it uses more paper, it is simpler to use this from the start. (Note: These guidelines thus far are in 1.5 spacing.)
Single spacing is used for block indented quotations of three or more lines of text and within the bibliography items that exceed one line of text.
Set “no widows or orphans” to on in your word processing software to ensure that paragraph breaks do not cause a single line of text to appear at the end or beginning of any page.
Quotations and References within the Text:
A full reference is given the first time a resource is quoted.
A full reference is enclosed in parentheses and includes the author(s) last name(s), the year of publication, a comma, then the page(s) being quoted.

EXAMPLES:

(Lipman 1991, 3)

(Bepko and Krestan 1993, 196)


Resources with three or more authors may be referred to using the last name of the first author and et. al. in the first and all subsequent full references.

EXAMPLE:


(Belenky et. al. 1986, 138-139)
Quotes under three lines are included within the double-spaced text of the paper and are enclosed in double quotes.

EXAMPLE:


The Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program is a "community of inquiry" (Lipman 1991, 3) that fosters opportunities for "transformative events" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 196) which have been a catalyst for my epistemological evolution.
Subsequent quotes from the same text may be referenced using a modified format, providing that other texts are not quoted between the items from the same text.

EXAMPLE:


Most importantly, the learning history model exposes the participants' "underlying assumptions" (Rothe and Kleiner 1995, 1) about their learning process and what they believe they have learned. By incorporating key aspects of "ethnography, journalism, actions research, oral history, and theater," (1) this assessment method encourages a deeper appreciation for the complexity of the learning experience for individuals within organizations.
When the quote falls at the end of a sentence, the reference is cited prior to the sentence's punctuation mark.

EXAMPLE:


It would prove to be the beginning of a journey of self-discovery, a process of "claiming [my] passions and shaping [my life] in response to them" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 195).
Brackets are used when the original material being quoted needs to be adjusted for verb tense or capitalization.

EXAMPLE:


"[It was] an experience in which the world split [s] open and life [wa] s irrevocably changed" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 195).
Ellipses ( …) are used to when portions of the original material being quoted are omitted.

EXAMPLE:


The process of producing a learning history "facilitates judgement, … relies on criteria, … is self-correcting, … [and is] sensitive to context" (Lipman 1991, 116).
The citation requirements vary when the author(s) and/or the resource being cited are mentioned as part of the narrative of the paper.

EXAMPLES (quotes from book by Matthew Lipman published in 1991):


(a) Author named in the narrative
Matthew Lipman's (1991) concepts of the "reflective" (19) model of education and the "community of inquiry" (3) offer the most applicable descriptions of the educational culture found in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
(b) Author and book named in the narrative
In his work, Thinking in Education (1991), Matthew Lipman describes his concepts of the "reflective" (19) model of education and the "community of inquiry" (3), which are applicable to the educational culture found in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Notes of three or more lines of text and quotes at the opening for a chapter are block indented, single-spaced, and the reference is in parenthesis after the sentence's punctuation mark.

EXAMPLE:


Coming to know is a process of building in which the knower plays a significant role and context is the backdrop upon which the current truth is built.
[C] onstructivists understand that answers to all questions vary depending on the context in which they are asked and on the frame of reference of the person doing the asking. (Belenky et. al. 1986, 138)
If a colon (: ) or period ( . ) is used at the end of the line of text preceding the quote, then the quote must either begin with a capital letter or with ellipses ( …).

EXAMPLES:

The essential human need for creative expression is described by noted author and professor of psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives…. First, most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity … second … when we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. (1996, 1-2)

Like me, they were:

…in the midst of dramatic personal and intellectual changes …[having experienced] … transitions in the way they perceived the world around them. (Belenky et. al. 1986, 4)
Special attention to format is needed when re-quoting material which is quoted by the author of the referenced material or excerpted from an anthology.

EXAMPLE (excerpt from an anthology authored by Bowie et. al. published in 1996):


I found respite in the words of William Morris, quoted in Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (Bowie et. al. 1996, 879):
'Worthy work carries with it the hope of pleasure in rest, the hope of pleasure in our using what it makes, and the hope of pleasure in our daily creative skill.'
NOTE:The text where the quote was found is named in the narrative of the paper and referenced, in parenthesis by authors, year of publication and page number. The quoted material is single spaced, block indented, and enclosed in single quotation marks (because the resource from which it is taken used double quotes).
When citing texts or journals but not directly quoting, use the appropriate format from the following:

- when naming only the author in the narrative of your paper, provide the year (s) of publication of the work (s) you reference in the bibliography in parenthesis after the author's name.

EXAMPLE

Matthew Lipman's (1991) work in provides a model of learning based on the concept of reflective thinking.


- when naming the work and the author, include the year of publication in parenthesis after the work, underlining the title of books and journals and enclosing the title of articles in double quotes.

EXAMPLE


In Singing at the Top of Our Lungs (1993), Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan define transformative events and explore the power and impact that such experiences have on the development of women's meaning making processes.
- when the author(s), date of publication, and title of work are included within the narrative, no additional information is required within the text.

EXAMPLE


I have modeled my work on the organization learning history structure introduced by George Rothe and Art Kleiner in their 1995 article titled "Learning Histories: 'Assessing' the Learning Organization".
- The preferred formats for items in this section are:
Books

Author's last name (comma) First name (space) Middle initial (period) year of publication (period) Title of the Work (period) Place of Publication (colon) Publisher (period)


Example

Abbott, Edward A. 1984. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. New York: Signet Classic.


When a book has more than one author, the second and subsequent authors are listed First name Middle initial (period) Last name after the first author.

Example


Bepko, Claudia and Jo-Ann Krestan 1993. Singing at the Top of Our Lungs. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Journal Articles

Author's last name (comma) First name (space) Middle initial (period) year of publication (period) "Title of the Work (comma)" Title of the Publication (period) Place of Publication (colon) Publisher (period)


Example

Roth, George and Art Kleiner. 1995. "Learning Histories: 'Assessing' the Learning Organization," The System Thinker. Cambridge, MA: Pegasus Communications.


- If some of the information necessary for a complete item is missing due to the fact that your source item is a photocopied excerpt, do the detective work to locate the original. If this fails, add the following to the end of the item in the bibliography:

Photocopied.


List of References:
Although an alternative referencing style is acceptable, provided it is consistently applied, the preferred formats for reference lists (bibliographies) are as follows:
Books

Author's last name (comma) First name (space) Middle initial (period) year of publication (period) Title of the Work (period) Place of Publication (colon) Publisher (period)


Example

Abbott, Edward A. 1984. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. New York: Signet Classic.


When a book has more than one author, the second and subsequent authors are listed First name Middle initial (period) Last name after the first author.

Example


Bepko, Claudia and Jo-Ann Krestan 1993. Singing at the Top of Our Lungs. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Journal Articles

Author's last name (comma) First name (space) Middle initial (period) year of publication (period) "Title of the Work (comma)" Title of the Publication (period) Place of Publication (colon) Publisher (period)


Example

Roth, George and Art Kleiner. 1995. "Learning Histories: 'Assessing' the Learning Organization," The System Thinker. Cambridge, MA: Pegasus Communications.


- If some of the information necessary for a complete item is missing due to the fact that your source item is a photocopied excerpt, do the detective work to locate the original. If this fails, add the following to the end of the item in the bibliography:

Photocopied.
- Consult Turabian (1996) for listing additional kinds of source.

PART II. GUIDELINES FOR PREPARATION OF THE FINAL COPY.
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