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How To Write A Research Summary

Deeptanshu D

It’s a common perception that writing a research summary is a quick and easy task. After all, how hard can jotting down 300 words be? But when you consider the weight those 300 words carry, writing a research summary as a part of your dissertation, essay or compelling draft for your paper instantly becomes daunting task.

A research summary requires you to synthesize a complex research paper into an informative, self-explanatory snapshot. It needs to portray what your article contains. Thus, writing it often comes at the end of the task list.

Regardless of when you’re planning to write, it is no less of a challenge, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time. This blog will take you through everything you need to know about research summary so that you have an easier time with it.

How to write a research summary

What is a Research Summary?

A research summary is the part of your research paper that describes its findings to the audience in a brief yet concise manner. A well-curated research summary represents you and your knowledge about the information written in the research paper.

While writing a quality research summary, you need to discover and identify the significant points in the research and condense it in a more straightforward form. A research summary is like a doorway that provides access to the structure of a research paper's sections.

Since the purpose of a summary is to give an overview of the topic, methodology, and conclusions employed in a paper, it requires an objective approach. No analysis or criticism.

Research summary or Abstract. What’s the Difference?

They’re both brief, concise, and give an overview of an aspect of the research paper. So, it’s easy to understand why many new researchers get the two confused. However, a research summary and abstract are two very different things with individual purpose. To start with, a research summary is written at the end while the abstract comes at the beginning of a research paper.

A research summary captures the essence of the paper at the end of your document. It focuses on your topic, methods, and findings. More like a TL;DR, if you will. An abstract, on the other hand, is a description of what your research paper is about. It tells your reader what your topic or hypothesis is, and sets a context around why you have embarked on your research.

Getting Started with a Research Summary

Before you start writing, you need to get insights into your research’s content, style, and organization. There are three fundamental areas of a research summary that you should focus on.

  • While deciding the contents of your research summary, you must include a section on its importance as a whole, the techniques, and the tools that were used to formulate the conclusion. Additionally, there needs to be a short but thorough explanation of how the findings of the research paper have a significance.
  • To keep the summary well-organized, try to cover the various sections of the research paper in separate paragraphs. Besides, how the idea of particular factual research came up first must be explained in a separate paragraph.
  • As a general practice worldwide, research summaries are restricted to 300-400 words. However, if you have chosen a lengthy research paper, try not to exceed the word limit of 10% of the entire research paper.

How to Structure Your Research Summary

The research summary is nothing but a concise form of the entire research paper. Therefore, the structure of a summary stays the same as the paper. So, include all the section titles and write a little about them. The structural elements that a research summary must consist of are:

It represents the topic of the research. Try to phrase it so that it includes the key findings or conclusion of the task.

The abstract gives a context of the research paper. Unlike the abstract at the beginning of a paper, the abstract here, should be very short since you’ll be working with a limited word count.

Introduction

This is the most crucial section of a research summary as it helps readers get familiarized with the topic. You should include the definition of your topic, the current state of the investigation, and practical relevance in this part. Additionally, you should present the problem statement, investigative measures, and any hypothesis in this section.

Methodology

This section provides details about the methodology and the methods adopted to conduct the study. You should write a brief description of the surveys, sampling, type of experiments, statistical analysis, and the rationality behind choosing those particular methods.

Create a list of evidence obtained from the various experiments with a primary analysis, conclusions, and interpretations made upon that. In the paper research paper, you will find the results section as the most detailed and lengthy part. Therefore, you must pick up the key elements and wisely decide which elements are worth including and which are worth skipping.

This is where you present the interpretation of results in the context of their application. Discussion usually covers results, inferences, and theoretical models explaining the obtained values, key strengths, and limitations. All of these are vital elements that you must include in the summary.

Most research papers merge conclusion with discussions. However, depending upon the instructions, you may have to prepare this as a separate section in your research summary. Usually, conclusion revisits the hypothesis and provides the details about the validation or denial about the arguments made in the research paper, based upon how convincing the results were obtained.

The structure of a research summary closely resembles the anatomy of a scholarly article . Additionally, you should keep your research and references limited to authentic and  scholarly sources only.

Tips for Writing a Research Summary

The core concept behind undertaking a research summary is to present a simple and clear understanding of your research paper to the reader. The biggest hurdle while doing that is the number of words you have at your disposal. So, follow the steps below to write a research summary that sticks.

1. Read the parent paper thoroughly

You should go through the research paper thoroughly multiple times to ensure that you have a complete understanding of its contents. A 3-stage reading process helps.

a. Scan: In the first read, go through it to get an understanding of its basic concept and methodologies.

b. Read: For the second step, read the article attentively by going through each section, highlighting the key elements, and subsequently listing the topics that you will include in your research summary.

c. Skim: Flip through the article a few more times to study the interpretation of various experimental results, statistical analysis, and application in different contexts.

Sincerely go through different headings and subheadings as it will allow you to understand the underlying concept of each section. You can try reading the introduction and conclusion simultaneously to understand the motive of the task and how obtained results stay fit to the expected outcome.

2. Identify the key elements in different sections

While exploring different sections of an article, you can try finding answers to simple what, why, and how. Below are a few pointers to give you an idea:

  • What is the research question and how is it addressed?
  • Is there a hypothesis in the introductory part?
  • What type of methods are being adopted?
  • What is the sample size for data collection and how is it being analyzed?
  • What are the most vital findings?
  • Do the results support the hypothesis?

Discussion/Conclusion

  • What is the final solution to the problem statement?
  • What is the explanation for the obtained results?
  • What is the drawn inference?
  • What are the various limitations of the study?

3. Prepare the first draft

Now that you’ve listed the key points that the paper tries to demonstrate, you can start writing the summary following the standard structure of a research summary. Just make sure you’re not writing statements from the parent research paper verbatim.

Instead, try writing down each section in your own words. This will not only help in avoiding plagiarism but will also show your complete understanding of the subject. Alternatively, you can use a summarizing tool (AI-based summary generators) to shorten the content or summarize the content without disrupting the actual meaning of the article.

SciSpace Copilot is one such helpful feature! You can easily upload your research paper and ask Copilot to summarize it. You will get an AI-generated, condensed research summary. SciSpace Copilot also enables you to highlight text, clip math and tables, and ask any question relevant to the research paper; it will give you instant answers with deeper context of the article..

4. Include visuals

One of the best ways to summarize and consolidate a research paper is to provide visuals like graphs, charts, pie diagrams, etc.. Visuals make getting across the facts, the past trends, and the probabilistic figures around a concept much more engaging.

5. Double check for plagiarism

It can be very tempting to copy-paste a few statements or the entire paragraphs depending upon the clarity of those sections. But it’s best to stay away from the practice. Even paraphrasing should be done with utmost care and attention.

Also: QuillBot vs SciSpace: Choose the best AI-paraphrasing tool

6. Religiously follow the word count limit

You need to have strict control while writing different sections of a research summary. In many cases, it has been observed that the research summary and the parent research paper become the same length. If that happens, it can lead to discrediting of your efforts and research summary itself. Whatever the standard word limit has been imposed, you must observe that carefully.

7. Proofread your research summary multiple times

The process of writing the research summary can be exhausting and tiring. However, you shouldn’t allow this to become a reason to skip checking your academic writing several times for mistakes like misspellings, grammar, wordiness, and formatting issues. Proofread and edit until you think your research summary can stand out from the others, provided it is drafted perfectly on both technicality and comprehension parameters. You can also seek assistance from editing and proofreading services , and other free tools that help you keep these annoying grammatical errors at bay.

8. Watch while you write

Keep a keen observation of your writing style. You should use the words very precisely, and in any situation, it should not represent your personal opinions on the topic. You should write the entire research summary in utmost impersonal, precise, factually correct, and evidence-based writing.

9. Ask a friend/colleague to help

Once you are done with the final copy of your research summary, you must ask a friend or colleague to read it. You must test whether your friend or colleague could grasp everything without referring to the parent paper. This will help you in ensuring the clarity of the article.

Once you become familiar with the research paper summary concept and understand how to apply the tips discussed above in your current task, summarizing a research summary won’t be that challenging. While traversing the different stages of your academic career, you will face different scenarios where you may have to create several research summaries.

In such cases, you just need to look for answers to simple questions like “Why this study is necessary,” “what were the methods,” “who were the participants,” “what conclusions were drawn from the research,” and “how it is relevant to the wider world.” Once you find out the answers to these questions, you can easily create a good research summary following the standard structure and a precise writing style.

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Home » Research Summary – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Summary – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Summary

Research Summary

Definition:

A research summary is a brief and concise overview of a research project or study that highlights its key findings, main points, and conclusions. It typically includes a description of the research problem, the research methods used, the results obtained, and the implications or significance of the findings. It is often used as a tool to quickly communicate the main findings of a study to other researchers, stakeholders, or decision-makers.

Structure of Research Summary

The Structure of a Research Summary typically include:

  • Introduction : This section provides a brief background of the research problem or question, explains the purpose of the study, and outlines the research objectives.
  • Methodology : This section explains the research design, methods, and procedures used to conduct the study. It describes the sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  • Results : This section presents the main findings of the study, including statistical analysis if applicable. It may include tables, charts, or graphs to visually represent the data.
  • Discussion : This section interprets the results and explains their implications. It discusses the significance of the findings, compares them to previous research, and identifies any limitations or future directions for research.
  • Conclusion : This section summarizes the main points of the research and provides a conclusion based on the findings. It may also suggest implications for future research or practical applications of the results.
  • References : This section lists the sources cited in the research summary, following the appropriate citation style.

How to Write Research Summary

Here are the steps you can follow to write a research summary:

  • Read the research article or study thoroughly: To write a summary, you must understand the research article or study you are summarizing. Therefore, read the article or study carefully to understand its purpose, research design, methodology, results, and conclusions.
  • Identify the main points : Once you have read the research article or study, identify the main points, key findings, and research question. You can highlight or take notes of the essential points and findings to use as a reference when writing your summary.
  • Write the introduction: Start your summary by introducing the research problem, research question, and purpose of the study. Briefly explain why the research is important and its significance.
  • Summarize the methodology : In this section, summarize the research design, methods, and procedures used to conduct the study. Explain the sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  • Present the results: Summarize the main findings of the study. Use tables, charts, or graphs to visually represent the data if necessary.
  • Interpret the results: In this section, interpret the results and explain their implications. Discuss the significance of the findings, compare them to previous research, and identify any limitations or future directions for research.
  • Conclude the summary : Summarize the main points of the research and provide a conclusion based on the findings. Suggest implications for future research or practical applications of the results.
  • Revise and edit : Once you have written the summary, revise and edit it to ensure that it is clear, concise, and free of errors. Make sure that your summary accurately represents the research article or study.
  • Add references: Include a list of references cited in the research summary, following the appropriate citation style.

Example of Research Summary

Here is an example of a research summary:

Title: The Effects of Yoga on Mental Health: A Meta-Analysis

Introduction: This meta-analysis examines the effects of yoga on mental health. The study aimed to investigate whether yoga practice can improve mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, stress, and quality of life.

Methodology : The study analyzed data from 14 randomized controlled trials that investigated the effects of yoga on mental health outcomes. The sample included a total of 862 participants. The yoga interventions varied in length and frequency, ranging from four to twelve weeks, with sessions lasting from 45 to 90 minutes.

Results : The meta-analysis found that yoga practice significantly improved mental health outcomes. Participants who practiced yoga showed a significant reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as stress levels. Quality of life also improved in those who practiced yoga.

Discussion : The findings of this study suggest that yoga can be an effective intervention for improving mental health outcomes. The study supports the growing body of evidence that suggests that yoga can have a positive impact on mental health. Limitations of the study include the variability of the yoga interventions, which may affect the generalizability of the findings.

Conclusion : Overall, the findings of this meta-analysis support the use of yoga as an effective intervention for improving mental health outcomes. Further research is needed to determine the optimal length and frequency of yoga interventions for different populations.

References :

  • Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Langhorst, J., Dobos, G., & Berger, B. (2013). Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Depression and anxiety, 30(11), 1068-1083.
  • Khalsa, S. B. (2004). Yoga as a therapeutic intervention: a bibliometric analysis of published research studies. Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 48(3), 269-285.
  • Ross, A., & Thomas, S. (2010). The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(1), 3-12.

Purpose of Research Summary

The purpose of a research summary is to provide a brief overview of a research project or study, including its main points, findings, and conclusions. The summary allows readers to quickly understand the essential aspects of the research without having to read the entire article or study.

Research summaries serve several purposes, including:

  • Facilitating comprehension: A research summary allows readers to quickly understand the main points and findings of a research project or study without having to read the entire article or study. This makes it easier for readers to comprehend the research and its significance.
  • Communicating research findings: Research summaries are often used to communicate research findings to a wider audience, such as policymakers, practitioners, or the general public. The summary presents the essential aspects of the research in a clear and concise manner, making it easier for non-experts to understand.
  • Supporting decision-making: Research summaries can be used to support decision-making processes by providing a summary of the research evidence on a particular topic. This information can be used by policymakers or practitioners to make informed decisions about interventions, programs, or policies.
  • Saving time: Research summaries save time for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders who need to review multiple research studies. Rather than having to read the entire article or study, they can quickly review the summary to determine whether the research is relevant to their needs.

Characteristics of Research Summary

The following are some of the key characteristics of a research summary:

  • Concise : A research summary should be brief and to the point, providing a clear and concise overview of the main points of the research.
  • Objective : A research summary should be written in an objective tone, presenting the research findings without bias or personal opinion.
  • Comprehensive : A research summary should cover all the essential aspects of the research, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions.
  • Accurate : A research summary should accurately reflect the key findings and conclusions of the research.
  • Clear and well-organized: A research summary should be easy to read and understand, with a clear structure and logical flow.
  • Relevant : A research summary should focus on the most important and relevant aspects of the research, highlighting the key findings and their implications.
  • Audience-specific: A research summary should be tailored to the intended audience, using language and terminology that is appropriate and accessible to the reader.
  • Citations : A research summary should include citations to the original research articles or studies, allowing readers to access the full text of the research if desired.

When to write Research Summary

Here are some situations when it may be appropriate to write a research summary:

  • Proposal stage: A research summary can be included in a research proposal to provide a brief overview of the research aims, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.
  • Conference presentation: A research summary can be prepared for a conference presentation to summarize the main findings of a study or research project.
  • Journal submission: Many academic journals require authors to submit a research summary along with their research article or study. The summary provides a brief overview of the study’s main points, findings, and conclusions and helps readers quickly understand the research.
  • Funding application: A research summary can be included in a funding application to provide a brief summary of the research aims, objectives, and expected outcomes.
  • Policy brief: A research summary can be prepared as a policy brief to communicate research findings to policymakers or stakeholders in a concise and accessible manner.

Advantages of Research Summary

Research summaries offer several advantages, including:

  • Time-saving: A research summary saves time for readers who need to understand the key findings and conclusions of a research project quickly. Rather than reading the entire research article or study, readers can quickly review the summary to determine whether the research is relevant to their needs.
  • Clarity and accessibility: A research summary provides a clear and accessible overview of the research project’s main points, making it easier for readers to understand the research without having to be experts in the field.
  • Improved comprehension: A research summary helps readers comprehend the research by providing a brief and focused overview of the key findings and conclusions, making it easier to understand the research and its significance.
  • Enhanced communication: Research summaries can be used to communicate research findings to a wider audience, such as policymakers, practitioners, or the general public, in a concise and accessible manner.
  • Facilitated decision-making: Research summaries can support decision-making processes by providing a summary of the research evidence on a particular topic. Policymakers or practitioners can use this information to make informed decisions about interventions, programs, or policies.
  • Increased dissemination: Research summaries can be easily shared and disseminated, allowing research findings to reach a wider audience.

Limitations of Research Summary

Limitations of the Research Summary are as follows:

  • Limited scope: Research summaries provide a brief overview of the research project’s main points, findings, and conclusions, which can be limiting. They may not include all the details, nuances, and complexities of the research that readers may need to fully understand the study’s implications.
  • Risk of oversimplification: Research summaries can be oversimplified, reducing the complexity of the research and potentially distorting the findings or conclusions.
  • Lack of context: Research summaries may not provide sufficient context to fully understand the research findings, such as the research background, methodology, or limitations. This may lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the research.
  • Possible bias: Research summaries may be biased if they selectively emphasize certain findings or conclusions over others, potentially distorting the overall picture of the research.
  • Format limitations: Research summaries may be constrained by the format or length requirements, making it challenging to fully convey the research’s main points, findings, and conclusions.
  • Accessibility: Research summaries may not be accessible to all readers, particularly those with limited literacy skills, visual impairments, or language barriers.

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How to Write a Summary of a Research Paper

Last Updated: July 10, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden . Hannah Madden is a writer, editor, and artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, she graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Hannah enjoys writing articles about conservation, sustainability, and eco-friendly products. When she isn’t writing, you can find Hannah working on hand embroidery projects and listening to music. This article has been viewed 27,348 times. Learn more...

Writing a summary of an academic research paper is an important skill, and it shows that you understand all of the relevant information presented to you. However, writing a summary can be tough, since it requires you to be completely objective and keep any analysis or criticisms to yourself. By keeping your goal in mind as you read the paper and focusing on the key points, you can write a succinct, accurate summary of a research paper to prove that you understood the overall conclusion.

Reading the Research Paper

Step 1 Figure out the focus of your summary.

  • For instance, if you’re supporting an argument in your own research paper, focus on the elements that are similar to yours.
  • Or, if you’re comparing and contrasting methodology, focus on the methods and the significance of the results.

Step 2 Scan through the article to pick out important information.

  • You can also read the abstract of the paper as a good example of what the authors find to be important in their article.

Step 3 Read the article fully 1 to 2 times.

  • Depending on how long and dense the paper is, your initial reading could take you up to an hour or more.

Step 4 Underline or highlight important information.

  • The important information will usually be toward the end of the paper as the authors explain their findings and conclusions.

Step 5 Take notes summarizing sections in your own words.

  • Writing a summary without plagiarizing, or copying the paper, is really important. Writing notes in your own words will help you get into the mindset of relaying information in your own way.

Including Relevant Information

Step 1 Aim to report the findings, not evaluate them.

  • For example, “The methods used in this paper are not up to standards and require more testing to be conclusive.” is an analysis.
  • ”The methods used in this paper include an in-depth survey and interview session with each candidate.” is a summary.

Step 2 Keep your summary brief.

  • If you’re writing a summary for class, your professor may specify how long your summary should be.
  • Some summaries can even be as short as one sentence.

Step 3 State the research question and hypothesis.

  • ”Environmental conditions in North Carolina pose a threat to frogs and toads.”

Step 4 Describe the testing and analyzation methods.

  • For example: “According to the climate model, frog and toad populations have been decreasing at a rapid rate over the past 10 years, and are on track to decrease even further in the coming years.”

Step 5 Talk about the results and how significant they were.

  • For example: “Smith and Herman (2008) argue that by decreasing greenhouse gases, frog and toad populations could reach historical levels within 20 years, and the climate model projections support that statement.”
  • You can add in the authors and year of publication at any time during your summary.

Step 6 Edit your summary for accuracy and flow.

  • If you have time, try reading your summary to someone who hasn’t read the original paper and see if they understand the key points of the article.

Expert Q&A

  • Make sure you fully understand the paper before you start writing the summary. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

writing a summary of a research paper

  • Plagiarism can have serious consequences in the academic world, so make sure you’re writing your summary in your own words. [12] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/593/2014/06/How_to_Summarize_a_Research_Article1.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.ufv.ca/media/assets/academic-success-centre/handouts/Summarizing-a-Scholarly-Journal-Article-rev2018.pdf
  • ↑ https://integrity.mit.edu/handbook/academic-writing/summarizing
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/summary-using-it-wisely/
  • ↑ https://davidson.libguides.com/c.php?g=349327&p=2361763

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How to Write Article Summaries, Reviews & Critiques

Writing an article summary.

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When writing a summary, the goal is to compose a concise and objective overview of the original article. The summary should focus only on the article's main ideas and important details that support those ideas.

Guidelines for summarizing an article:

  • State the main ideas.
  • Identify the most important details that support the main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words.
  • Do not copy phrases or sentences unless they are being used as direct quotations.
  • Express the underlying meaning of the article, but do not critique or analyze.
  • The summary should be about one third the length of the original article. 

Your summary should include:

  • Give an overview of the article, including the title and the name of the author.
  • Provide a thesis statement that states the main idea of the article.
  • Use the body paragraphs to explain the supporting ideas of your thesis statement.
  • One-paragraph summary - one sentence per supporting detail, providing 1-2 examples for each.
  • Multi-paragraph summary - one paragraph per supporting detail, providing 2-3 examples for each.
  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.
  • Use transitional words and phrases to connect ideas.
  • Summarize your thesis statement and the underlying meaning of the article.

 Adapted from "Guidelines for Using In-Text Citations in a Summary (or Research Paper)" by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, 2020

Additional Resources

All links open in a new window.

How to Write a Summary - Guide & Examples  (from Scribbr.com)

Writing a Summary  (from The University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center)

  • Next: Writing an article REVIEW >>
  • Last Updated: Aug 16, 2023 11:47 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.randolph.edu/summaries

Diana Ribeiro

How to write a summary of a research paper (with template)

by Diana Ribeiro Last updated Jul 20, 2020 | Published on Jun 27, 2020 Writing Skills 0 comments

In our daily work as medical writers, we have to read many scholarly articles and extract the main information from them. Having a process to retrieve that information and create a short summary that you can easily access will save you precious time. That’s why I decided to guide you through my process of summarising a research article and created a handy template.

Having short summaries of academic papers is useful to create news articles, press releases, social media posts, blog articles, or curated news reports, like the one I write weekly for my newsletter subscribers .

writing a summary of a research paper

What’s the importance of summarising research articles?

If you don’t have a system to extract the main information from a scholarly paper, you may have to re-read it repeatedly, looking for that piece of information you know it’s there. Sure, you can use a highlighter pen to mark the main points, but sometimes what happens is that you end up with yellow walls of text. Or green. Or even a rainbow. Which may be pretty, but it’s quite useless as a retrieval system.

What also happens when you highlight text is that you end up with a diverse array of writing styles, none of them being your own. This way, when you try to write a text with information from multiple sources, you have to search for the information and write it in a consistent style.

In this article, I’ll show you how to retrieve the most relevant information from a scientific paper, how to write it in a compelling way, and how to present it in a news-worthy style that’s easily adaptable to your audience. Ready?

writing a summary of a research paper

Three steps to summarise a research paper

1. scan and extract the main points.

First things first, so you have to read the paper. But that doesn’t mean you have to read it from start to finish. Start by scanning the article for its main points.

Here’s the essential information to extract from the research paper you have in front of you:

  • Authors, year, doi
  • Study question: look in the introduction for a phrase like “the aim of this study was”
  • Hypothesis tested
  • Study methods: design, participants, materials, procedure, what was manipulated (independent variables), what was measured (dependent variables), how data were analysed.
  • Findings: from the results section; fill this before you look at the discussion section, if possible. Write bullet points.
  • Interpretation: how did the authors interpreted their findings? Use short sentences, in your own words.

After extracting the key information , revisit the article and read it more attentively, to see if you missed something. Add some notes to your summary, but take care to avoid plagiarism. Write notes in your own words. If you can’t do that at this moment, use quotation marks to indicate that your note came straight from the study. You can rewrite it later, when you have a better grasp of the study.

2. Use a journalistic approach for the first draft

Some sources advise you to keep the same structure as the scientific article, but I like to use the journalistic approach of news articles and flush out the more relevant information first, followed by the details. This is more enticing for readers, making them want to continue reading. Yes, I know that your reader may be just you, but I know I have lost myself in some of the things I’ve written, so…keep it interesting, even for a future self 😊.

This is the main information you have to put together:

Title of the article: I like to keep the original article title for the summary, because it’s easier to refer back to the original article if I need to. Sometimes I add a second title, just for me, if the article title is too obscure or long.

  • 1 st paragraph: Answer the 5 W’s in 3-4 sentences.

Who? (the authors)

What? (main finding)

When and where? (journal, date of publication)

Why? (relevance)

This should be a standalone paragraph, meaning that the reader should be able to take out the main information even if they just read this paragraph.

  • Subsequent paragraphs: In 2-3 paragraphs or less, provide context and more information about the research done. If you’re not sure if a detail is important or not, you can include it here and edit it out in the next step.

3. Polish the rough edges

In this stage, you’re going to make a quick edit, checking for completeness and accuracy. Make sure you’ve included all the main points without repeating yourself. Double-check all the numbers. Stay focused on the research questions to avoid tangents. Avoid using jargon and the passive voice whenever possible.

Final summary

Using this approach, you’ll end up with a short summary of your article that you can use to craft other types of writing, such as press releases, news articles, social media blurbs, and many others.

The advantages of summarising research articles are that you can better understand what the article is about, and you’ll have a text written by you, so it’s easier to adapt and you avoid unintentional plagiarism.

That’s it! My guide to write a research paper summary 😊

I’ve created a handout with all the information in this blog post plus a fill-in-the-blanks template that you can use to summarise research articles, you can download it using the form below. You’ll be signed up to my mailing list, and receive a weekly roundup of news in the biomedical industry as a bonus!

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comment box below.

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About Diana Ribeiro

Diana Ribeiro  is a pharmacist and  freelance medical writer based in Cascais, Portugal.  Before starting her career in medical writing, Diana worked 10+ years in hospital and community pharmacies, where she helped patients and healthcare professionals with drug management and information. Nowadays, she helps pharma, biotech, and meddev companies communicate with their audiences in a clear, accurate, and compelling way. Diana is an active member of the European Medical Writers Association, where she volunteers for the webinar team. You can find more about her on  LinkedIn .

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Writing a Summary – Explanation & Examples

Published by Alvin Nicolas at October 17th, 2023 , Revised On October 17, 2023

In a world bombarded with vast amounts of information, condensing and presenting data in a digestible format becomes invaluable. Enter summaries. 

A summary is a brief and concise account of the main points of a larger body of work. It distils complex ideas, narratives, or data into a version that is quicker to read and easier to understand yet still retains the essence of the original content.

Importance of Summaries

The importance of summarising extends far beyond just making reading more manageable. In academic settings, summaries aid students in understanding and retaining complex materials, from textbook chapters to research articles. They also serve as tools to showcase one’s grasp of the subject in essays and reports. 

In professional arenas, summaries are pivotal in business reports, executive briefings, and even emails where key points need to be conveyed quickly to decision-makers. Meanwhile, summarising skills come into play in our personal lives when we relay news stories to friends, recap a movie plot, or even scroll through condensed news or app notifications on our smartphones.

Why Do We Write Summaries?

In our modern information age, the sheer volume of content available can be overwhelming. From detailed research papers to comprehensive news articles, the quest for knowledge is often met with lengthy and complex resources. This is where the power of a well-crafted summary comes into play. But what drives us to create or seek out summaries? Let’s discuss.

Makes Important Things Easy to Remember

At the heart of summarisation is the goal to understand. A well-written summary aids in digesting complex material. By distilling larger works into their core points, we reinforce the primary messages, making them easier to remember. This is especially crucial for students who need to retain knowledge for exams or professionals prepping for a meeting based on a lengthy report.

Simplification of Complex Topics

Not everyone is an expert in every field. Often, topics come laden with jargon, intricate details, and nuanced arguments. Summaries act as a bridge, translating this complexity into accessible and straightforward content. This is especially beneficial for individuals new to a topic or those who need just the highlights without the intricacies.

Aid in Researching and Understanding Diverse Sources

Researchers, writers, and academics often wade through many sources when working on a project. This involves finding sources of different types, such as primary or secondary sources , and then understanding their content. Sifting through each source in its entirety can be time-consuming. Summaries offer a streamlined way to understand each source’s main arguments or findings, making synthesising information from diverse materials more efficient.

Condensing Information for Presentation or Sharing

In professional settings, there is often a need to present findings, updates, or recommendations to stakeholders. An executive might not have the time to go through a 50-page report, but they would certainly appreciate a concise summary highlighting the key points. Similarly, in our personal lives, we often summarise movie plots, book stories, or news events when sharing with friends or family.

Characteristics of a Good Summary

Crafting an effective summary is an art. It’s more than just shortening a piece of content; it is about capturing the essence of the original work in a manner that is both accessible and true to its intent. Let’s explore the primary characteristics that distinguish a good summary from a mediocre one:

Conciseness

At the core of a summary is the concept of brevity. But being concise doesn’t mean leaving out vital information. A good summary will:

  • Eliminate superfluous details or repetitive points.
  • Focus on the primary arguments, events, or findings.
  • Use succinct language without compromising the message.

Objectivity

Summarising is not about infusing personal opinions or interpretations. A quality summary will:

  • Stick to the facts as presented in the original content.
  • Avoid introducing personal biases or perspectives.
  • Represent the original author’s intent faithfully.

A summary is meant to simplify and make content accessible. This is only possible if the summary itself is easy to understand. Ensuring clarity involves:

  • Avoiding jargon or technical terms unless they are essential to the content. If they are used, they should be clearly defined.
  • Structuring sentences in a straightforward manner.
  • Making sure ideas are presented in a way that even someone unfamiliar with the topic can grasp the primary points.

A jumble of ideas, no matter how concise, will not make for a good summary. Coherence ensures that there’s a logical flow to the summarised content. A coherent summary will:

  • Maintain a logical sequence, often following the structure of the original content.
  • Use transition words or phrases to connect ideas and ensure smooth progression.
  • Group related ideas together to provide structure and avoid confusion.

Steps of Writing a Summary

The process of creating a compelling summary is not merely about cutting down content. It involves understanding, discerning, and crafting. Here is a step-by-step guide to writing a summary that encapsulates the essence of the original work:

Reading Actively

Engage deeply with the content to ensure a thorough understanding.

  • Read the entire document or work first to grasp its overall intent and structure.
  • On the second read, underline or highlight the standout points or pivotal moments.
  • Make brief notes in the margins or on a separate sheet, capturing the core ideas in your own words.

Identifying the Main Idea

Determine the backbone of the content, around which all other details revolve.

  • Ask yourself: “What is the primary message or theme the author wants to convey?”
  • This can often be found in the title, introduction, or conclusion of a piece.
  • Frame the main idea in a clear and concise statement to guide your summary.

List Key Supporting Points

Understand the pillars that uphold the main idea, providing evidence or depth to the primary message.

  • Refer back to the points you underlined or highlighted during your active reading.
  • Note major arguments, evidence, or examples that the author uses to back up the main idea.
  • Prioritise these points based on their significance to the main idea.

Draft the Summary

Convert your understanding into a condensed, coherent version of the original.

  • Start with a statement of the main idea.
  • Follow with the key supporting points, maintaining logical order.
  • Avoid including trivial details or examples unless they’re crucial to the primary message.
  • Use your own words, ensuring you are not plagiarising the original content.

Fine-tune your draft to ensure clarity, accuracy, and brevity.

  • Read your draft aloud to check for flow and coherence.
  • Ensure that your summary remains objective, avoiding any personal interpretations or biases.
  • Check the length. See if any non-essential details can be removed without sacrificing understanding if it is too lengthy.
  • Ensure clarity by ensuring the language is straightforward, and the main ideas are easily grasped.

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writing a summary of a research paper

Dos and Don’ts of Summarising Key Points

Summarising, while seemingly straightforward, comes with its nuances. Properly condensing content demands a balance between brevity and fidelity to the original work. To aid in crafting exemplary summaries, here is a guide on the essential dos and don’ts:

Use your Own Words

This ensures that you have truly understood the content and are not merely parroting it. It also prevents issues of plagiarism.

Tip: After reading the original content, take a moment to reflect on it. Then, without looking at the source, write down the main points in your own words.

Attribute Sources Properly

Giving credit is both ethical and provides context to readers, helping them trace back to the original work if needed. How to cite sources correctly is a skill every writer should master.

Tip: Use signal phrases like “According to [Author/Source]…” or “As [Author/Source] points out…” to seamlessly incorporate attributions.

Ensure Accuracy of the Summarised Content

A summary should be a reliable reflection of the original content. Distorting or misrepresenting the original ideas compromises the integrity of the summary.

Tip: After drafting your summary, cross-check with the original content to ensure all key points are represented accurately and ensure you are referencing credible sources .

Avoid Copy-Pasting Chunks of Original Content

This not only raises plagiarism concerns but also shows a lack of genuine engagement with the material.

Tip: If a particular phrase or sentence from the original is pivotal and cannot be reworded without losing its essence, use block quotes , quotation marks, and attribute the source.

Do not Inject your Personal Opinion

A summary should be an objective reflection of the source material. Introducing personal biases or interpretations can mislead readers.

Tip: Stick to the facts and arguments presented in the original content. If you find yourself writing “I think” or “In my opinion,” reevaluate the sentence.

Do not Omit Crucial Information

While a summary is meant to be concise, it shouldn’t be at the expense of vital details that are essential to understanding the original content’s core message.

Tip: Prioritise information. Always include the main idea and its primary supports. If you are unsure whether a detail is crucial, consider its impact on the overall message.

Examples of Summaries

Here are a few examples that will help you get a clearer view of how to write a summary. 

Example 1: Summary of a News Article

Original Article: The article reports on the recent discovery of a rare species of frog in the Amazon rainforest. The frog, named the “Emerald Whisperer” due to its unique green hue and the soft chirping sounds it makes, was found by a team of researchers from the University of Texas. The discovery is significant as it offers insights into the biodiversity of the region, and the Emerald Whisperer might also play a pivotal role in understanding the ecosystem balance.

Summary: Researchers from the University of Texas have discovered a unique frog, termed the “Emerald Whisperer,” in the Amazon rainforest. This finding sheds light on the region’s biodiversity and underscores the importance of the frog in ecological studies.

Example 2: Summary of a Research Paper

Original Paper: In a study titled “The Impact of Urbanisation on Bee Populations,” researchers conducted a year-long observation on bee colonies in three urban areas and three rural areas. Using specific metrics like colony health, bee productivity, and population size, the study found that urban environments saw a 30% decline in bee populations compared to rural settings. The research attributes this decline to factors like pollution, reduced green spaces, and increased temperatures in urban areas.

Summary: A study analysing the effects of urbanisation on bee colonies found a significant 30% decrease in bee populations in urban settings compared to rural areas. The decline is linked to urban factors such as pollution, diminished greenery, and elevated temperatures.

Example 3: Summary of a Novel

Original Story: In the novel “Winds of Fate,” protagonist Clara is trapped in a timeless city where memories dictate reality. Throughout her journey, she encounters characters from her past, present, and imagined future. Battling her own perceptions and a menacing shadow figure, Clara seeks an elusive gateway to return to her real world. In the climax, she confronts the shadow, which turns out to be her own fear, and upon overcoming it, she finds her way back, realising that reality is subjective.

Summary: “Winds of Fate” follows Clara’s adventures in a surreal city shaped by memories. Confronting figures from various phases of her life and battling a symbolic shadow of her own fear, Clara eventually discovers that reality’s perception is malleable and subjective.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a summary.

A summary condenses a larger piece of content, capturing its main points and essence.  It is usually one-fourth of the original content.

What is a summary?

A summary is a concise representation of a larger text or content, highlighting its main ideas and points. It distils complex information into a shorter form, allowing readers to quickly grasp the essence of the original material without delving into extensive details. Summaries prioritise clarity, brevity, and accuracy.

When should I write a summary?

Write a summary when you need to condense lengthy content for easier comprehension and recall. It’s useful in academic settings, professional reports, presentations, and research to highlight key points. Summaries aid in comparing multiple sources, preparing for discussions, and sharing essential details of extensive materials efficiently with others.

How can I summarise a source without plagiarising?

To summarise without plagiarising: Read the source thoroughly, understand its main ideas, and then write the summary in your own words. Avoid copying phrases verbatim. Attribute the source properly. Use paraphrasing techniques and cross-check your summary against the original to ensure distinctiveness while retaining accuracy. Always prioritise understanding over direct replication.

What is the difference between a summary and an abstract?

A summary condenses a text, capturing its main points from various content types like books, articles, or movies. An abstract, typically found in research papers and scientific articles, provides a brief overview of the study’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions. Both offer concise versions, but abstracts are more structured and specific.

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How to Write a Research Paper Summary

Journal submission: Tips to submit better manuscripts | Paperpal

One of the most important skills you can imbibe as an academician is to know how to summarize a research paper. During your academic journey, you may need to write a summary of findings in research quite often and for varied reasons – be it to write an introduction for a peer-reviewed publication , to submit a critical review, or to simply create a useful database for future referencing.

It can be quite challenging to effectively write a research paper summary for often complex work, which is where a pre-determined workflow can help you optimize the process. Investing time in developing this skill can also help you improve your scientific acumen, increasing your efficiency and productivity at work. This article illustrates some useful advice on how to write a research summary effectively. But, what is research summary in the first place?  

A research paper summary is a crisp, comprehensive overview of a research paper, which encapsulates the purpose, findings, methods, conclusions, and relevance of a study. A well-written research paper summary is an indicator of how well you have understood the author’s work. 

Table of Contents

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  • 2. Invest enough time to understand the topic deeply 

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  • Mistakes to avoid while writing your research paper summary 

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Frequently asked questions (faq), how to write a research paper summary.

Writing a good research paper summary comes with practice and skill. Here is some useful advice on how to write a research paper summary effectively.  

1. Determine the focus of your summary

Before you begin to write a summary of research papers, determine the aim of your research paper summary. This will give you more clarity on how to summarize a research paper, including what to highlight and where to find the information you need, which accelerates the entire process. If you are aiming for the summary to be a supporting document or a proof of principle for your current research findings, then you can look for elements that are relevant to your work.

On the other hand, if your research summary is intended to be a critical review of the research article, you may need to use a completely different lens while reading the paper and conduct your own research regarding the accuracy of the data presented. Then again, if the research summary is intended to be a source of information for future referencing, you will likely have a different approach. This makes determining the focus of your summary a key step in the process of writing an effective research paper summary. 

2. Invest enough time to understand the topic deeply

In order to author an effective research paper summary, you need to dive into the topic of the research article. Begin by doing a quick scan for relevant information under each section of the paper. The abstract is a great starting point as it helps you to quickly identify the top highlights of the research article, speeding up the process of understanding the key findings in the paper. Be sure to do a careful read of the research paper, preparing notes that describe each section in your own words to put together a summary of research example or a first draft. This will save your time and energy in revisiting the paper to confirm relevant details and ease the entire process of writing a research paper summary.

When reading papers, be sure to acknowledge and ignore any pre-conceived notions that you might have regarding the research topic. This will not only help you understand the topic better but will also help you develop a more balanced perspective, ensuring that your research paper summary is devoid of any personal opinions or biases. 

3. Keep the summary crisp, brief and engaging

A research paper summary is usually intended to highlight and explain the key points of any study, saving the time required to read through the entire article. Thus, your primary goal while compiling the summary should be to keep it as brief, crisp and readable as possible. Usually, a short introduction followed by 1-2 paragraphs is adequate for an effective research article summary. Avoid going into too much technical detail while describing the main results and conclusions of the study. Rather focus on connecting the main findings of the study to the hypothesis , which can make the summary more engaging. For example, instead of simply reporting an original finding – “the graph showed a decrease in the mortality rates…”, you can say, “there was a decline in the number of deaths, as predicted by the authors while beginning the study…” or “there was a decline in the number of deaths, which came as a surprise to the authors as this was completely unexpected…”.

Unless you are writing a critical review of the research article, the language used in your research paper summaries should revolve around reporting the findings, not assessing them. On the other hand, if you intend to submit your summary as a critical review, make sure to provide sufficient external evidence to support your final analysis. Invest sufficient time in editing and proofreading your research paper summary thoroughly to ensure you’ve captured the findings accurately. You can also get an external opinion on the preliminary draft of the research paper summary from colleagues or peers who have not worked on the research topic. 

Mistakes to avoid while writing your research paper summary

Now that you’ve understood how to summarize a research paper, watch out for these red flags while writing your summary. 

  • Not paying attention to the word limit and recommended format, especially while submitting a critical review 
  • Evaluating the findings instead of maintaining an objective , unbiased view while reading the research paper 
  • Skipping the essential editing step , which can help eliminate avoidable errors and ensure that the language does not misrepresent the findings 
  • Plagiarism, it is critical to write in your own words or paraphrase appropriately when reporting the findings in your scientific article summary 

We hope the recommendations listed above will help answer the question of how to summarize a research paper and enable you to tackle the process effectively. 

Summarize your research paper with Paperpal

Paperpal, an AI academic writing assistant, is designed to support academics at every step of the academic writing process. Built on over two decades of experience helping researchers get published and trained on millions of published research articles, Paperpal offers human precision at machine speed. Paperpal Copilot, with advanced generative AI features, can help academics achieve 2x the writing in half the time, while transforming how they research and write.

writing a summary of a research paper

How to summarize a research paper with Paperpal?

To generate your research paper summary, simply login to the platform and use the Paperpal Copilot Summary feature to create a flawless summary of your work. Here’s a step-by-step process to help you craft a summary in minutes:

  • Paste relevant research articles to be summarized into Paperpal; the AI will scan each section and extract key information.
  • In minutes, Paperpal will generate a comprehensive summary that showcases the main paper highlights while adhering to academic writing conventions.
  • Check the content to polish and refine the language, ensure your own voice, and add citations or references as needed.

The abstract and research paper summary serve similar purposes but differ in scope, length, and placement. The abstract is a concise yet detailed overview of the research, placed at the beginning of a paper, with the aim of providing readers with a quick understanding of the paper’s content and to help them decide whether to read the full article. Usually limited to a few hundred words, it highlights the main objectives, methods, results, and conclusions of the study. On the other hand, a research paper summary provides a crisp account of the entire research paper. Its purpose is to provide a brief recap for readers who may want to quickly grasp the main points of the research without reading the entire paper in detail.

The structure of a research summary can vary depending on the specific requirements or guidelines provided by the target publication or institution. A typical research summary includes the following key sections: introduction (including the research question or objective), methodology (briefly describing the research design and methods), results (summarizing the key findings), discussion (highlighting the implications and significance of the findings), and conclusion (providing a summary of the main points and potential future directions).

The summary of a research paper is important because it provides a condensed overview of the study’s purpose, methods, results, and conclusions. It allows you to quickly grasp the main points and relevance of the research without having to read the entire paper. Research summaries can also be an invaluable way to communicate research findings to a broader audience, such as policymakers or the general public.

  When writing a research paper summary, it is crucial to avoid plagiarism by properly attributing the original authors’ work. To learn how to summarize a research paper while avoiding plagiarism, follow these critical guidelines: (1) Read the paper thoroughly to understand the main points and key findings. (2) Use your own words and sentence structures to restate the information, ensuring that the research paper summary reflects your understanding of the paper. (3) Clearly indicate when you are paraphrasing or quoting directly from the original paper by using appropriate citation styles. (4) Cite the original source for any specific ideas, concepts, or data that you include in your summary. (5) Review your summary to ensure it accurately represents the research paper while giving credit to the original authors.

Paperpal is an AI writing assistant that help academics write better, faster with real-time suggestions for in-depth language and grammar correction. Trained on millions of research manuscripts enhanced by professional academic editors, Paperpal delivers human precision at machine speed.

Try it for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime , which unlocks unlimited access to premium features like academic translation, paraphrasing, contextual synonyms, consistency checks, submission readiness and more. It’s like always having a professional academic editor by your side! Go beyond limitations and experience the future of academic writing. Get Paperpal Prime now at just US$12 a month!

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Home Surveys Academic Research

Research Summary: What is it & how to write one

research summary

The Research Summary is used to report facts about a study clearly. You will almost certainly be required to prepare a research summary during your academic research or while on a research project for your organization.

If it is the first time you have to write one, the writing requirements may confuse you. The instructors generally assign someone to write a summary of the research work. Research summaries require the writer to have a thorough understanding of the issue.

This article will discuss the definition of a research summary and how to write one.

What is a research summary?

A research summary is a piece of writing that summarizes your research on a specific topic. Its primary goal is to offer the reader a detailed overview of the study with the key findings. A research summary generally contains the article’s structure in which it is written.

You must know the goal of your analysis before you launch a project. A research overview summarizes the detailed response and highlights particular issues raised in it. Writing it might be somewhat troublesome. To write a good overview, you want to start with a structure in mind. Read on for our guide.

Why is an analysis recap so important?

Your summary or analysis is going to tell readers everything about your research project. This is the critical piece that your stakeholders will read to identify your findings and valuable insights. Having a good and concise research summary that presents facts and comes with no research biases is the critical deliverable of any research project.

We’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you write a good research summary below.

Research Summary Guide

  • Why was this research done?  – You want to give a clear description of why this research study was done. What hypothesis was being tested?
  • Who was surveyed? – The what and why or your research decides who you’re going to interview/survey. Your research summary has a detailed note on who participated in the study and why they were selected. 
  • What was the methodology? – Talk about the methodology. Did you do face-to-face interviews? Was it a short or long survey or a focus group setting? Your research methodology is key to the results you’re going to get. 
  • What were the key findings? – This can be the most critical part of the process. What did we find out after testing the hypothesis? This section, like all others, should be just facts, facts facts. You’re not sharing how you feel about the findings. Keep it bias-free.
  • Conclusion – What are the conclusions that were drawn from the findings. A good example of a conclusion. Surprisingly, most people interviewed did not watch the lunar eclipse in 2022, which is unexpected given that 100% of those interviewed knew about it before it happened.
  • Takeaways and action points – This is where you bring in your suggestion. Given the data you now have from the research, what are the takeaways and action points? If you’re a researcher running this research project for your company, you’ll use this part to shed light on your recommended action plans for the business.

LEARN ABOUT:   Action Research

If you’re doing any research, you will write a summary, which will be the most viewed and more important part of the project. So keep a guideline in mind before you start. Focus on the content first and then worry about the length. Use the cheat sheet/checklist in this article to organize your summary, and that’s all you need to write a great research summary!

But once your summary is ready, where is it stored? Most teams have multiple documents in their google drives, and it’s a nightmare to find projects that were done in the past. Your research data should be democratized and easy to use.

We at QuestionPro launched a research repository for research teams, and our clients love it. All your data is in one place, and everything is searchable, including your research summaries! 

Authors: Prachi, Anas

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  • How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

Published on 25 September 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 12 May 2023.

Summarising , or writing a summary, means giving a concise overview of a text’s main points in your own words. A summary is always much shorter than the original text.

There are five key steps that can help you to write a summary:

  • Read the text
  • Break it down into sections
  • Identify the key points in each section
  • Write the summary
  • Check the summary against the article

Writing a summary does not involve critiquing or analysing the source. You should simply provide an accurate account of the most important information and ideas (without copying any text from the original).

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Table of contents

When to write a summary, step 1: read the text, step 2: break the text down into sections, step 3: identify the key points in each section, step 4: write the summary, step 5: check the summary against the article, frequently asked questions.

There are many situations in which you might have to summarise an article or other source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to show you’ve understood the material
  • To keep notes that will help you remember what you’ve read
  • To give an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review

When you’re writing an academic text like an essay , research paper , or dissertation , you’ll integrate sources in a variety of ways. You might use a brief quote to support your point, or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs.

But it’s often appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is especially relevant to your own research, or to provide an overview of a source before you analyse or critique it.

In any case, the goal of summarising is to give your reader a clear understanding of the original source. Follow the five steps outlined below to write a good summary.

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You should read the article more than once to make sure you’ve thoroughly understood it. It’s often effective to read in three stages:

  • Scan the article quickly to get a sense of its topic and overall shape.
  • Read the article carefully, highlighting important points and taking notes as you read.
  • Skim the article again to confirm you’ve understood the key points, and reread any particularly important or difficult passages.

There are some tricks you can use to identify the key points as you read:

  • Start by reading the abstract . This already contains the author’s own summary of their work, and it tells you what to expect from the article.
  • Pay attention to headings and subheadings . These should give you a good sense of what each part is about.
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion together and compare them: What did the author set out to do, and what was the outcome?

To make the text more manageable and understand its sub-points, break it down into smaller sections.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already organised into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

Other types of articles may not be explicitly divided into sections. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

Now it’s time go through each section and pick out its most important points. What does your reader need to know to understand the overall argument or conclusion of the article?

Keep in mind that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

In a scientific article, there are some easy questions you can ask to identify the key points in each part.

If the article takes a different form, you might have to think more carefully about what points are most important for the reader to understand its argument.

In that case, pay particular attention to the thesis statement —the central claim that the author wants us to accept, which usually appears in the introduction—and the topic sentences that signal the main idea of each paragraph.

Now that you know the key points that the article aims to communicate, you need to put them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and show you’ve understood the article, it’s essential to properly paraphrase the author’s ideas. Do not copy and paste parts of the article, not even just a sentence or two.

The best way to do this is to put the article aside and write out your own understanding of the author’s key points.

Examples of article summaries

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, we summarise this article , which scientifically investigates the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

An article summary like the above would be appropriate for a stand-alone summary assignment. However, you’ll often want to give an even more concise summary of an article.

For example, in a literature review or research paper, you may want to briefly summarize this study as part of a wider discussion of various sources. In this case, we can boil our summary down even further to include only the most relevant information.

Citing the source you’re summarizing

When including a summary as part of a larger text, it’s essential to properly cite the source you’re summarizing. The exact format depends on your citation style , but it usually includes an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of your paper.

You can easily create your citations and references in APA or MLA using our free citation generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Finally, read through the article once more to ensure that:

  • You’ve accurately represented the author’s work
  • You haven’t missed any essential information
  • The phrasing is not too similar to any sentences in the original.

If you’re summarising many articles as part of your own work, it may be a good idea to use a plagiarism checker to double-check that your text is completely original and properly cited. Just be sure to use one that’s safe and reliable.

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words.

Save yourself some time with the free summariser.

A summary is always much shorter than the original text. The length of a summary can range from just a few sentences to several paragraphs; it depends on the length of the article you’re summarising, and on the purpose of the summary.

With the summariser tool you can easily adjust the length of your summary.

You might have to write a summary of a source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to prove you understand the material
  • For your own use, to keep notes on your reading
  • To provide an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review
  • In a paper , to summarise or introduce a relevant study

To avoid plagiarism when summarising an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by   paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Reference the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

An abstract concisely explains all the key points of an academic text such as a thesis , dissertation or journal article. It should summarise the whole text, not just introduce it.

An abstract is a type of summary , but summaries are also written elsewhere in academic writing . For example, you might summarise a source in a paper , in a literature review , or as a standalone assignment.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, May 12). How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 15 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/working-sources/how-to-write-a-summary/

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  • A Research Guide
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How to Write a Summary for a Research Paper

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How to Write a Summary for a Research Paper

Why do you need to write a summary of a research paper?

When do you need to write a research paper summary.

  • Writing a research paper summary is crucial because it allows you to present a concise overview of your research to readers who need time or expertise to read the entire paper.
  • A research paper summary can help you organize your thoughts and refine your research question, leading to a comprehensive answer.
  • When you write a research paper summary, you make an essential step in the research process that can help you to be more effective and communicate your research findings.

How to start a summary if you have no ideas?

  • When summarizing a research paper, it’s crucial to begin by identifying the primary points of the study.
  • Start reading through the abstract and introduction and quickly scanning the results and conclusion sections.
  • After pinpointing the key takeaways, you need to include in a summary information that accurately reflects the main findings of the research.
  • Next, choose all the most basic and write down the abstracts logically.
  • After, see what thought you could start your summary with.

How to write a good summary: step by step guide

Step 1. read the text of your work., step 2. structure your notes., step 3. write the main part of the summary., step 4. add a research objective., step 5. add keywords., step 6. briefly describe the findings., step 7. remove all unnecessary information., step 8. edit the summary., summary writing checklist.

  • Understand the main idea: Before starting to write an executive summary for a research paper, ensure you understand the main idea of the text you are summarizing. It will help you to focus on the most critical points.
  • Identify the key points: Once you have understood the main idea, identify the key points that support it. These are the essential pieces of information that should be included in a summary.
  • Use your own words: When writing a summary, it is essential to use your own words to convey the information. Avoid simply copying and pasting sentences from the original text.
  • Be concise: Summaries should be brief and to the point. Avoid including unnecessary details or information irrelevant to the main idea.
  • Check for accuracy: Before submitting your summary, ensure it accurately reflects the original text’s main idea and key points. Also, check for any errors or omissions

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How to write a summary of a research paper.

October 15, 2020

 Summary Of Research Paper

What is a research paper summary? The summary of research paper is a piece of writing the attempts to summarize the essence and key components of a research project to a prospective audience. It follows a standard format and is usually no more than a few pages long. It is sometimes also referred to as an executive summary for a research paper when the written piece is used for business purposes (e.g., research project involving sales strategies).

This article will focus on the latter and show students how to properly plan, write, and format an executive summary of research paper for a project dealing with a business project and report. It is simply a brief overview of a larger report and should be written last. It is in no way a comprehensive piece of writing (an executive summary example research paper is usually about 10 percent the length of the original) and should only communicate the most important points of the original report.

How to Write a Summary of a Research Paper

Writing an executive summary for a research paper requires you to know some basics, including stylistic and structural guidelines. These include:

  • Paragraphs should be short and concise, consisting of no more than 4 – 5 sentences each.
  • A research paper executive summary should make sense without having to read the original report.
  • A summary should clearly define the research problem(s) and present the solution(s).
  • A summary should be written in language that is appropriate for the intended audience.
  • A summary should utilize graphics and bullet points to make the document easier to read.

You might want to use a research paper summary template when you are just starting. If you can’t find one available for free, a professional writing and editing service like ourselves can always custom-write any type of template you need for an assignment.

A 10-Step Process for Writing a Summary of a Research Paper

Let us assume that you are the person who wrote the original document. You should know the study firsthand and should able to quickly identify and take out the most important parts. We suggest you simply highlight each topic sentence, supporting evidence, and examples. List these items in order in a new document that could serve as an outline to your executive summary of research paper.

We keep stressing the term “short.” This is because you are not going into great depth. A summary is a tool an audience will use to determine if it is worth the time to read the full report. Avoid business jargon at all costs. Just stick to the facts and keep your writing clear and concise. Condense the information from your outline as much as possible.

Like in other types of writing, the executive summary for a research paper needs to have a hook placed at the start of the document. In no more than 2 or 3 sentences, you need to tell the audience why your research project is important. Chances are the audience will already have some interest in your report, so the hook should seal the deal by convincing readers that your findings are relevant to them.

The important part of learning how to write summary of research paper is identifying and defining the major research problem. You need to make sure the problem is explained as clearly as possible. If you do not achieve this your audience will not be convinced there is a problem at all, and your solution will not have as great an impact as you had hoped it would.

Explaining the research problem is the easy part. You need to give the reader a solution to that problem by presenting it in a way that is logical and easy to understand. The reader should have the sense that the solution can be applied to other situations (e.g., to a business problem he or she might be facing) and feel as they can make great use of your ideas.

Elaborate on the major problem by showing statistics taken from the larger report. Utilize visual tools like graphs and charts to convey complicated information. Explain each visual tool in a few sentences so that the audience knows precisely what it is you are talking about, and always make sure the information supports your solutions.

As we explained before, this type of writing is used almost exclusively for business purposes. Your summary at the end of a research paper will be read by people who are familiar with whatever industry you focused your report on, so you must state the specific advantages your solution will have over others. This isn’t much different than making a sales pitch, so you might consider using language that promotes your proposition.

You may not have to include your business model, but it would do no harm if you did. If the research you conducted dealt with a specific business plan, then you need to make sure you share this information with the audience. The reason behind this is that your solution might only apply to certain situations and by letting the audience know you protect yourself from presenting an idea that is not universal.

Again, you may not need to incorporate this section in all cases. This is tied with a business plan which usually identifies and describes what type of management team needs to be put in place for your business solution to work. Since most businesses will need to make investments when it comes to implementing new ideas, you should be transparent about what you had in mind when it comes to workflow processes.

Finally, bring your summary to a close by making revenue projections. You need to support your claims with realistic forecasts regarding money saved or money earned. You can use the numbers you arrived at in your original study, but you should also provide a general explanation (e.g., using percentages) of what others should expect if they applied your solution to their businesses.

And that’s it. You should now have a solid understanding of how to write a summary of a research paper on any subject dealing with business. As you can see the process isn’t that much different from other types of writing. If you follow these 10-steps, you should be able to craft a great summary without much difficulty.

Need More Help with Your Executive Summary Research Paper?

One of the best ways to learn how to successfully write a summary of research paper is to learn from the pros. Our paper writers can provide you with a custom written research paper summary example as well as other academic resources to instruct you on how to write an executive summary for a research paper in any discipline. We can help you write, revise, and edit all of your assignments. You can reach us in one of several ways, including chat, email, and phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let us know if you find this article helpful and feel free to share it with your friends and classmates. And tell us what else you’d like us to write about, we’re always open to suggestions.

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  6. JOURNAL SUMMARY

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Summary

    When to write a summary. Step 1: Read the text. Step 2: Break the text down into sections. Step 3: Identify the key points in each section. Step 4: Write the summary. Step 5: Check the summary against the article. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about summarizing.

  2. How To Write A Research Summary

    So, follow the steps below to write a research summary that sticks. 1. Read the parent paper thoroughly. You should go through the research paper thoroughly multiple times to ensure that you have a complete understanding of its contents. A 3-stage reading process helps.

  3. PDF Summary and Analysis of Scientific Research Articles

    write to the sample summary and analysis answer that follows. Remember that this sample article is short. A full research article from a published, peer- ... The research paper "Behavioral Study of Obedience" by Shuttleworth (2008) explores this concept. The purpose of this study was to test how far common people will go when told by an

  4. PDF How to Summarize a Research Article

    A research article usually has seven major sections: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion, and References. The first thing you should do is to decide why you need to summarize the article. If the purpose of the summary is to take notes to later remind yourself about the article you may want to write a longer summary ...

  5. Research Summary

    Definition: A research summary is a brief and concise overview of a research project or study that highlights its key findings, main points, and conclusions. It typically includes a description of the research problem, the research methods used, the results obtained, and the implications or significance of the findings.

  6. Easy Ways to Write a Summary of a Research Paper: 11 Steps

    Some summaries can even be as short as one sentence. 3. State the research question and hypothesis. To begin your summary, start by summarizing what the authors aim to answer and what their hypothesis was. You can combine both the question and the hypothesis into one short sentence to open up your summary.

  7. How to Write Article Summaries, Reviews & Critiques

    When writing a summary, the goal is to compose a concise and objective overview of the original article. The summary should focus only on the article's main ideas and important details that support those ideas. ... Adapted from "Guidelines for Using In-Text Citations in a Summary (or Research Paper)" by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, 2020 ...

  8. How to write a summary of a research paper (with template)

    1. Scan and extract the main points. First things first, so you have to read the paper. But that doesn't mean you have to read it from start to finish. Start by scanning the article for its main points. Here's the essential information to extract from the research paper you have in front of you: Authors, year, doi.

  9. Research Paper Summary: How to Write a Summary of a Research ...

    A summary must be coherent and cogent and should make sense as a stand-alone piece of writing. It is typically 5% to 10% of the length of the original paper; however, the length depends on the length and complexity of the article and the purpose of the summary. Accordingly, a summary can be several paragraphs or pages, a single paragraph, or ...

  10. Writing a Summary

    Example 2: Summary of a Research Paper. Original Paper: In a study titled "The Impact of Urbanisation on Bee Populations," researchers conducted a year-long observation on bee colonies in three urban areas and three rural areas. Using specific metrics like colony health, bee productivity, and population size, the study found that urban ...

  11. How to Write a Research Paper Summary

    A research paper summary is a crisp, comprehensive overview of a research paper, which encapsulates the purpose, findings, methods, conclusions, and relevance of a study. A well-written research paper summary is an indicator of how well you have understood the author's work. Table of Contents. How to write a research paper summary. 1.

  12. Research Summary- Structure, Examples, and Writing tips

    A research summary is a type of paper designed to provide a brief overview of a given study - typically, an article from a peer-reviewed academic journal. It is a frequent type of task encountered in US colleges and universities, both in humanitarian and exact sciences, which is due to how important it is to teach students to properly interact ...

  13. A Guide to Writing a Research Summary: Steps, Structure, and Tips

    Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Summary Paper Find Out the Focus Area of Your Paper. Writing a research report requires you to read the entire article thoroughly. First, skim through the paper and understand the gist of the article. Once you have gone through the contents, you will have a fairly good idea of what the paper is all about.

  14. Effective Summary For Research Paper: How To Write

    1. Read The Entire Research Paper. Before you can write an effective summary, you must first read and understand the research paper. This may seem like a time-consuming task, but it is essential to write a good summary. Make sure that you understand all of the main points of the paper before you begin writing. 2.

  15. Research Summary: What is it & how to write one

    A research summary is a piece of writing that summarizes your research on a specific topic. Its primary goal is to offer the reader a detailed overview of the study with the key findings. A research summary generally contains the article's structure in which it is written. You must know the goal of your analysis before you launch a project.

  16. How to Write a Summary

    Table of contents. When to write a summary. Step 1: Read the text. Step 2: Break the text down into sections. Step 3: Identify the key points in each section. Step 4: Write the summary. Step 5: Check the summary against the article. Frequently asked questions.

  17. How to Write a Summary for a Research Paper

    After you have written the summary's main text, add the study's purpose to the paper. Briefly describe each paper's thesis and why you did the research. Step 5. Add keywords. Review the summary text again and add keywords from your research. Use the most common ones that best reflect the essence of the task. Step 6.

  18. 4 Tips for Writing a Good Summary

    However, for academic papers and more formal writing, summary writing leans towards factual and clinical. Summaries appear in many different shapes and forms, including book reports and other school papers. Academics use summaries all the time for research papers when they write an abstract, which is essentially a summary of an entire research ...

  19. How to Write a Research Paper

    A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research. Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research.

  20. Writing a Summary

    A summary should include all of the main points or ideas in the work but avoid smaller details or ideas. You don't want to provide every aspect of the plot or smaller points in your summary. Your summary should be written using your own words. Present the main ideas objectively, avoiding your own opinion and thoughts about the work.

  21. Free Text Summarizer

    100% free: Generate unlimited summaries without paying a penny Accurate: Get a reliable and trustworthy summary of your original text without any errors No signup: Use it without giving up any personal data Secure: No summary data is stored, guaranteeing your privacy Speed: Get an accurate summary within seconds, thanks to AI Flexible: Adjust summary length to get more (or less) detailed summaries

  22. Summary of Research Paper

    Writing an executive summary for a research paper requires you to know some basics, including stylistic and structural guidelines. These include: Paragraphs should be short and concise, consisting of no more than 4 - 5 sentences each. A research paper executive summary should make sense without having to read the original report.

  23. How To Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper (With Template

    The executive summary briefly describes the study's key points and suggests changes, actions and implementation strategies for the business. You can use the following steps to write an executive summary for a research paper: 1. Read the entire research paper.