Writing at Level 6 for Third year midwives

R21–0822 NURS31340 ASYNC only


(embed text) Stepping up to Level 6

Congratulations on entering your third year at university! In this session we will be working on how you can identify and write out connections, agreements and disagreements between sources of evidence. To do this, we will build on the strategies we have discussed and practiced in previous years.

Reflecting on last year

When stepping up a year, it is important to take some time to reflect on what you achieved in second year and to identify what you need to work on this year.

To do this, take a look at the marking criteria for your course (this tells you what your assessments will be judged on), and identify an area or skill/s that you want to develop further this year to help with your assessments and other work. You may also find it useful to look back through your feedback on assessments last year to spot any patterns in the advice and suggestions you received. After you have decided on which area/s you want to develop this year, take a look at the which My Learning Essentials resources may help you achieve your goal.
(Embed marking criteria pdf.)

Planning how you will achieve your goal is just as important as recognising what areas you need or want to develop. Read through “Achieving your academic goal” resource below to find a really useful strategy that will help you make an effective plan to achieve the goals you have set yourself this year.

(embed: Achieving your academic goals)

Synthesising (embed text)

Evidence of interpretation, critical evaluation, critical analysis and synthesis of appropriate research findings.

As this criterion from the marking criteria shows, the ability to synthesise information from a range of research findings in your own writing is an important part of stepping up to third year.

Synthesising is a high-level academic skill and is particularly important in academic reading and writing as it allows you the go beyond focusing on individual texts and to spot connections between different pieces of research. By combining and paraphrasing ideas from different sources, synthesising can support you to find patterns, common ideas, arguments and identify competing schools of thought about topics that will support you in writing critically.

Refresh and Reflect

Synthesising involves skills you have already proven you can do effectively, such as referencing, academic writing and note making. However, it may have been a little while since you last wrote or referenced anything. If you want a refresher on these skills, the below My Learning Essentials interactive resources will be very useful.

Whilst working through these resources, make a note of the strategies or tips you think are particularly helpful and think about how you will incorporate them into your own ways of working. You may wish to include these in your plan to achieve the academic goals you set yourself earlier.
(embed resource: Getting started with referencing)
(embed: Writing Your Essay)
Strategies for effective note-making)

Why we synthesise

Synthesising the research that you read will enable you to discuss issues and arguments that arise from what you read. When you are synthesising research you are practising a critical view of the research and therefore your writing should be more critical than descriptive.

Descriptive writing is the simple presentation of information to the reader. Your writing is suggesting that the reader is aware of what you are referring to follow your discussion.

Critical writing is when you use the evidence to persuade your reader of your opinion or stance on a topic. Your writing explains the significance of the evidence and explicitly how it relates to your discussion.

To help get started with this, think about your answers to the following questions :

1) What advantages are there in including multiple sources of evidence to support the point you want to make?

2)How does it help you achieve a balance between descriptive and critical writing?

Use the Padlet to crowd share your answers anonymously.
To add a new box for your comments click on the + sign at the bottom of the column
(embed Padlet)

Example of synthesis in action

Here you can see notes taken from three different pieces of reading about Manchester.

  1. Westfield (2012) argues that patient care should be the main concern for midwives.
  2. Midwives should be trained explicitly on how to build caring relationships with their patients (Kaldin, 2017).
  3. Alphi’s (2020) survey of current NHS patients found that trust and communication with midwives, nurses and doctors was the common cause of concern of patients from all ages and backgrounds.

Before reading on, think about how you would synthesise these three ideas into a single sentence.

Practice by writing a sentence that combines all three ideas into a new, single sentence.

The three notes above all make slightly different comments on the same theme — the importance midwives’ relationships with their patients. Therefore, if you wanted to make a general comment about this you could say:

“Midwives need to maintain good relationships and lines of communication with their patients (Alphi, 2020; Kaldin, 2017; Westfield, 2012).”

As you can see, this new sentence has paraphrased the three notes together to show their shared idea. This helps achieve a better balance between descriptive and critical writing, as rather than use three evidence sentences to present the same idea/s, you can do this in a single sentence — giving yourself more word-count for your own analysis and reflections on that evidence.

Think back to the strategy It says, I say and so that we used last year and it now becomes They say.

Practice Synthesising Strategy

  1. Read the following two short articles on labour pain:

“The Nature of Labour Pain: an updated review of the literature”

“Women’s expectations and experiences of labor pain in medical and midwifery models of birth in the United States”

(You may need to log-in with your university details to access these two articles)

  1. Make notes from the two articles, capturing the main ideas and arguments.
  2. Once you have notes from the two articles, identify and highlight common or shared ideas from across the articles. You may wish to highlight agreements in one colour and disagreements in another.
  3. Write a short paragraph to synthesise the ideas the two articles share. To help with this, imagine you are writing a summary to explain what the papers have in common to another student. Write your synthesised summary in this Google Doc.

To get started with writing your summary, think back to Essay Writing resource above and you will find this post on Writing Your Main Body helpful in structuring your summary.


Synthesising is an important skill to develop for your work in third year and it is a way to showcase the good research you have done to your markers.. Integrating research evidence into your writing engages you in academic discussions and demonstrates the depth of your understanding of issues within midwifery.

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