Choose one article to summarize. Follow the guidelines and answer the questions in “Analyzing a Scholarly Article.”
Reading the Article
Allow enough time. Before you can write about the research, you have to understand it. This can often take a lot longer than most people realize. Only when you can clearly explain the study in your own words to someone who hasn’t read the article are you ready to write about it. Scan the article first. If you try to read a new article from start to finish, you’ll get bogged down in detail. Instead, use your knowledge of the format to find the main points.
Briefly look at each section.
Underline key sentences or write the key point of each paragraph in the margin. Although the abstract can help you to identify the main points, you cannot rely on it exclusively, because it contains very condensed information. Remember to focus on the parts of the article that are most relevant.
Read for depth, read interactively. After you have highlighted the main points, read each section several times.
Follow the suggestions in “Analyzing a Scholarly Article.”
Plagiarism. Plagiarism is always a risk when summarizing someone else’s work.
To avoid it:
•Take notes in your own words. Using short notes or summarizing key points in your own words forces you to rewrite the ideas into your own words later.
•If you find yourself sticking closely to the original language and making only minor changes to the wording, then you probably don’t understand the study.
Writing the Summary
Like an abstract in a published research article, the purpose of an article summary is to give the reader a brief overview of the study. To write a good summary, identify what information is important and condense that information for your reader. The better you understand a subject, the easier it is to explain it thoroughly and briefly.
Write a first draft. Use the same order as in the article itself. Adjust the length accordingly depending on the content of your particular article and how you will be using the summary.
Follow the guidelines and answer the questions in “Analyzing a Scholarly Article.”
If you have trouble on one section, leave it for a while and try another.
Edit for completeness and accuracy. Add information for completeness where necessary. More commonly, if you understand the article, you will need to cut redundant or less important information. Stay focused on responding to the guidelines/questions, be concise, and avoid generalities.
Edit for style. Write to an intelligent, interested, and naïve audience (e.g., yourself, your classmates). Expect your readers to be interested, but don’t make them struggle to understand you. Include all the important details; don’t assume that they are already understood.
•Eliminate wordiness, including most adverbs (“very”, “clearly”). “The results clearly showed that there was no difference between the groups” can be shortened to “There was no significant difference between the groups”.
•Use specific, concrete language. Use precise language and cite specific examples to support assertions. Avoid vague references (e.g. “this illustrates” should be “this result illustrates”).
•Use scientifically accurate language. For example, you cannot “prove” hypotheses (especially with just one study). You “support” or “fail to find support for” them.
•Rely primarily on paraphrasing, not direct quotes. Direct quotes are seldom used in scientific writing. Instead, paraphrase what you have read. To give due credit for information that you paraphrase, cite the author’s last name (Smith).
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