College of Arts and Sciences

Synthesis Paper

 Your synthesis paper is a culminating manuscript demonstrating your understanding of communication theory, research, or practice. Its purpose is to exhibit knowledge of the academic discipline of communication and confirm effective analytical abilities and writing competencies. Because your synthesis paper should reflect your approved plan of study, it must be a substantially original work of scholarship, as opposed to a cosmetic revision of a paper previously completed for a course.

The requirements for your synthesis paper include:


A 1-2 page description of your synthesis project including, but not limited to:

  • a tentative thesis, purpose statement, or research question
  • a proposed methodology (i.e., extended literature or the use of empirical, interpretive, critical, or historical methods)
  • an explanation of the significance of this issue
  • a working bibliography

Synthesis Paper

  • Must not exceed 25 pages (excluding reference list and appendices)
  • Must include review of literature demonstrating awareness of the appropriate literature in a specific area(s) of communication
  • May be a review essay, a limited original research project, or other project acceptable to your advisory committee

Your advisory committee will judge the work to be acceptable or unacceptable in four areas:

  1. Quality of Thesis: Have you identified an important concept? Have you articulated an original thesis? Have you focused on critical relationships or critical concepts?
  2. Quality of Supporting Arguments: Have you referred to the appropriate literature addressing the topic? Have you developed the arguments in support of the thesis with cogent reasoning and relevant evidence?
  3. Quality of the Conclusions: Have you concluded with worthwhile ideas?
  4. Overall Quality of the Writing: Have you provided a rationale as necessitated by your topic? Is the essay free of tangential material that is not in service of the argument? Do you use appropriate academic style? Do you support your assertions? Do you document correctly? Is your documentation in the right place? Is the paper clearly organized in a manner that serves the writer's argument?