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POLI 245: Courts, Judges and American Judicial Politics

Synthesis Templates

Synthesis grids are organizational tools for recording the main concepts of your sources and can help with connecting your sources to one another.

  • Synthesis Grid Templates & Search Log: This template provides four different organizational frameworks for keeping track of your sources. Select the grid that most closely meets your needs; add or delete columns as you wish. Download or create your own copy to begin using.

Key Questions for Strategic Reading

Not all articles will use these exact subheadings, however these questions can still be used to focus your reading.

Article Section Key Questions
  • What is the objective of the study or article?
  • What results or conclusions are presented in the abstract?
  • What issues does the author seem to be concerned about?
  • What is the gap in previous research that the authors are addressing with this study?
  • Does the author(s) introduce theory?
  • How does the author test their hypothesis or conduct their analysis?
  • What data or evidence was collected? How is it used?
  • What were the major findings or conclusions of the article?
  • Are the main findings expected?
  • Does the article meet its objectives?
  • Does the author address the problems or limitations of their research methods?
  • What does the author suggest as future research?

How to Use a Source

The BEAM model provides a framework for identifying how you might use a source in your own research. 

BEAM model details: Background to present information and establish facts; Exhibit to explicate, interpret, analyze; Argument to affirm, dispute, refine, extend; and Method to provide a critical lens, key terms, theory, style, perspective and discourse