This synthesis research paper prompt is inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success. I have used this prompt with on-level 11th grade English and AP Language and Composition. Right now, all of the materials are for AP Lang students, but can easily be modified for on-level students (I just don't require on-level students to synthesize a visual source for evidence).
I have included: the prompt, a sample excerpt from Gladwell's Outliers about Bill Gates to model the type of synthesis I expect from students (and to pique student interest), a topic ticket handout, source card templates, sample Works Cited page (MLA 8th edition), outline templates and a sample outline, a peer review guide, and a grading rubric.
Students usually enjoy this research paper because of the amount of freedom they have to research an "outlier" of choice; I always encourage them to select someone who practices a craft or skill they too are interested in! I am always impressed by their level of synthesis and their arguments for how and why someone is "successful." After the papers are turned in, I always let students earn extra credit by giving a brief presentation about their selected outlier (just an idea!). The presentations are fun to watch, and they also teach students about other noteworthy intellectuals, innovators, athletes, actors/actresses, musicians, mathematicians, etc.