Organise and Synthesise

How can I best fit together what I have selected - in my own words?

By this stage you should have started to develop your understanding of the topic and your point of view or argument on the associated issues. You should have a clear idea of the essential parts of your topic and should have a topic plan or task scaffold that you are adding to as you find out more about the topic. 

The organising step is about combining together pieces of information that relate to the same part and deciding what order you should present your parts in to best fulfil your task instructions. The act of combining together pieces of information in a new way in your own words is called synthesising.

Organising is made easier if you keep firmly in mind the PURPOSE of your assignment. Usually you are asked to do one of the following:

  • PRESENT A STUDY OF or A REPORT ON - give detailed, well structured information that thoroughly covers the main aspects of the topic.
  • DISCUSS - investigate the arguments for and against a statement.
  • SUMMARISE - give a detailed account of the main facts, aspects, events or processes.
  • EXPLAIN - give a full account in plain language.
  • COMPARE - point out similarities and differences, concentrating on the similarities.
  • CONTRAST - point out differences and similarities, concentrating on differences.
  • SHOW - demonstrate by presenting evidence.
  • ANALYSE - break the subject into main ideas, examine each one carefully and explain how they relate to eachother.
  • CRITICISE - take an idea or theory apart point by point and judge how valid it is.

See the full list of definitions for common assignment terms.

What you are asked to do in the assignment question will give you the key to how you should structure your information. Organise your information according to your purpose. Follow any directions given to you in your assignment task about how your assignment should be structured. If you are writing a report or an essay, you will usually need to adhere to the common structure for these:

Report structure

  • The TITLE PAGE shows your name, subject, class, teacher, assignment/report name and due date.
  • The CONTENTS is a list of headings and subheadings with page numbers, that maps out the sections you have used to organise your information.
  • The INTRODUCTION is a brief outline of the topic area and the purpose of the report.
  • The BODY contains what you have found in your research, organised under subheadings.
  • The CONCLUSION briefly summarises the main findings of your research and draws your key points together to present your judgement on any issues you have been asked to address.
  • The APPENDICES includes diagrams, images, tables or other information that support your main information, but would interrupt the flow of the report if they were included in the body.
  • The BIBLIOGRAPHY is a correctly written list of all the information resources you consulted in your research.

Read more about how to write a report.

Essay Structure

  • The TITLE PAGE shows your name, subject, class, teacher, assignment/essay name and due date.
  • The INTRODUCTION focuses the reader's attention on the topic, creates interest, states your objectives and outlines your approach.
  • The BODY presents the key points of your argument or point of view. It has a section (paragraph) for each key point that includes a statement of what the point is, discussion of the point and support for it. Link the main points together so that they flow towards your final conclusions.
  • The CONCLUSION briefly summarises your point of view, draws your key points together to present your final answer to the assignment question and rounds off your discussion of the topic.
  • The BIBLIOGRAPHY is a correctly written list of all the information resources you consulted in your research. 

There a several excellent books on how to write essays located on the 808.4 shelf in the library.

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