Learn How to Summarize Articles for Whichever Class You are Taking

By Editorial Team Sep 10, 2021

Learn How to Summarize Articles for Whichever Class You are Taking

You will undoubtedly need to learn how to summarize an article at some time during your university or college study. It's an important element of learning and showing your professor you've comprehended the content.

In essence, an article summary is a rewrite of someone else's work. It may sound straightforward, but when it comes time to write a summary, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It takes more than just restating arguments to earn full marks, so make sure you include everything your professor wants.

This blog will teach you how to summarize an article step by step. You can pass any class with our support. This is how it works.

Why do we need an article summary?

Before learning how to summarize an article, you need understand why you're doing it. You may need to underline crucial material for a research article. You'll know what supporting arguments to employ and how to approach the topic when you write the paper. The ultimate purpose of an article summary is to summarize the material and have a better comprehension of it. It's a critique of someone's work. This type of assignment is required in many disciplines and courses since it provides a wonderful method to learn about a topic or gain insight from an expert. Their arguments can assist you comprehend why you're studying this subject. Article summaries demonstrate reading and interpretation skills. How well did you grasp the author's perspective? Could you summarize their points in a few sentences? This is a valuable skill that you will use throughout your college or university career and beyond.

Depending on your job path, you may need to know how to summarize an article. Your employer may ask you to read and summarize a case study for a meeting or to compress an article for a project.

Begin with the Abstract

  • The first thing you should do if you want to learn how to summarize an article is to read the abstract. Because it is effectively the author's own synopsis of their content, this is where you should start every time.
  • The abstract of the article is intended to simplify and condense the material you will read as well as the author's position. Here's an example: there's some background information with a statistic, a brief description of the issue and topic, and the study's purpose or results.
  • If you have to choose your own article to summarize, or if you're utilizing an article summary for a research paper, the abstract will tell you if the article includes the necessary information. It can also tell you whether or not the issue is of interest to you.

Read the Article at Least Twice

  • The first step is to thoroughly study the article to gain an idea of the author's arguments and topic. At this point, don't worry about taking notes; instead, focus on glancing through the article without the burden of your homework. This is where solid reading skills come in handy, especially if your studies demand you to write a lot of article summaries.
  • If you're dealing with a complicated piece and aren't sure if you actually grasp it after skimming it, read it again for clarification. If you don't understand what the author is saying, you won't be able to effectively condense or summarize it.
  • Of course, you should not leave your work till the last minute. However, if you are in a hurry, you may need to learn how to execute this step quickly. Check out Episode 48 of The Homework Help Show, where our host and top writer, Cath Anne, shares some time-saving strategies for reading an academic article.
  • After you're certain you understand the article, read it again and take notes. These notes will serve as the foundation for your summary and will assist you in including the most crucial details.

Taking Useful Notes

  • Highlight the topic sentence or thesis statement of the article. As you read the rest of the piece, you'll be able to tell whether the author's evidence does a good job of proving their major claim (s).
  • Take note of the counter-arguments. These are the arguments that you will need to summarize in your paper. Concentrate on the main points and consider what the author is saying that may be relevant or useful to your course. The more you can connect these principles to your course material, the more impressed your professor will be.
  • It's also a good idea to highlight specific keywords or vocabulary concepts throughout the essay. When summarizing an article, major keywords should be included. This shows your professor that you understand the paper and have taken in the important themes. This is especially vital if the author has invented any terminology or phrases.
  • Check out our blog on effective note-taking for more tips and tactics to ensure you record all of the facts you need to compose a decent summary. Some of the skills you utilize in class will also come in handy when it comes to condensing and summarizing.

Getting Started with Article Summaries

  • It's time to create a summary after you've read the material at least twice and taken notes. To begin, create an outline for your summary. This will aid in the organization of your thoughts and guarantee that you cover all of your bases in the article. It will also assist you in staying on track when you begin writing to ensure that you do not include any extraneous material.
  • Your summary should begin with an introductory paragraph in which you establish the issue, provide context for the piece, and repeat the author's argument in your own words. The body paragraphs should then outline the primary supporting arguments and the evidence utilized to support them. Your conclusion will restate the argument and include additional research questions or assertions. We will go over these in greater depth below.
  • Remember that your job is to provide a summary of the article, not to write on the issue itself. You have left out your own persuasive standpoint. Instead, you're delving into the author's point of view and focusing on what they've written or how they came to their conclusions.

Essential Elements of a Good Summary

  1. In your own words, restate the author's thesis.
  2. Include the author's name, the title of the piece, and the journal in which it was published.
  3. When feasible, utilize direct quotations; otherwise, paraphrase.
  4. Do not copy and paste paragraphs from the article. This is considered plagiarism and can land you in hot water. You can only do this if you are using a direct quotation that is properly cited.
  5. Use the present tense.
  6. Unless your professor has specifically instructed you to do so, avoid employing first person narration.
  7. Maintain your objectivity. You are not making a criticism of the article. You're summarizing it and giving an overview of the author's points.
  8. Keep it short and to the point. Don't overload your reader with material that isn't required.
  9. Unless your teacher has given a length limit, attempt to make your summary around one-third the length of the article you're describing.

Formulating a Good Topic Sentence

  • An article summary's topic phrase and/or thesis statement are essentially a recounting of the author's own thesis. This statement should summarize the major point offered by the author.
  • Because the author has already written the arguments, it is easier to do this while writing a summary. You only need to discover them, underline them, and then rewrite them in your own words. It's fine if your thesis statement is a couple sentences long.

Repeat the Author's Points to Summarize their Statement

  • You should be able to summarize and rephrase the author's ideas in your own words. Your professor is interested in how well you absorbed and digested the author's arguments, as well as how you connected them to issues presented in class or in your own learning.
  • If the piece is a study, for example, identify the author's hypothesis and/or research question, as well as the methods they utilized to reach their conclusions.
  • When summarizing an author's arguments, you should always be careful not to exaggerate. The more you can condense it, the more evidence you have that you have learned the topic.
  • Consider what is most important to you and work with it. If you're studying how to write an article summary for the purpose of producing a research paper, emphasize the supporting arguments that pertain to the points you intend to make.

Check the Sources

  • Examine the types of sources used by the author in their supporting arguments. A good summary will look at the research to determine the strength of the case. The author's case will be stronger if the sources are more reliable.
  • Various types of articles will typically rely on a variety of sources to prove the author's claims. Primary sources will be used in history papers to provide information about the time period. These sources frequently contain personal recollections of historical events and, when used correctly, can be quite reliable. Empirical articles will typically detail the direct findings of a study undertaken by the writers, providing firsthand experiences of those conclusions.
  • Take note of any secondary sources. Peer-reviewed publications and academic institutions provide the most dependable supporting evidence, as compared to magazine articles or one-sided editorial pieces.

Quotations and Paraphrasing

  • Paraphrasing demonstrates to your professor that you have read and comprehended the content in the article. It shows that you've thought about the author's views, interpreted them, and can present them in your own words. The more you can sum up in your own words, the higher your grade.
  • In some circumstances, direct quotations might strengthen your paper if handled correctly. Quotations are crucial in academic essays and papers, but they should be kept to a minimum when summarizing an article. Again, you must demonstrate that your summary is based on your own understanding and interpretation.

Questions to Aks when Writing a Summary

Here are some more questions to consider while you write your article summary. This can assist you steer your paper and decide out what to include when you run out of ideas.

  • Who is the author's intended audience?
  • What is the author's tone of voice?
  • Is the article debatable? If so, what is the author's intention? In other words, what is the author attempting to persuade the reader to do or consider?
  • What questions does the article raise for you?
  • Do the accompanying arguments persuade you of the author's point of view? If so, why or why not?

Template for a Great Summary

Understanding the format of an academic essay might assist you in learning how to summarize an article and structure your paper. The basic format you should follow is as follows to guarantee that your work is cohesive, flows smoothly, and contains the most relevant information.

  • Introduction

    • Your first line should be something that grabs the attention of your reader. Following that, utilize your introduction paragraph to identify the author and the title of the article. If you can uncover any background information about the author, even if it's simply their credentials, it can help you with your introduction. Your topic sentence or thesis statement should be the last sentence or a few sentences, and it should indicate what topics you will elaborate on.
  • Main Body Paragraphs

    • Each body paragraph should begin with a topic phrase that introduces one of the supporting arguments. Unless your professor has specifically requested a concise summary, each of the author's supporting points should have its own body paragraph. You will discuss and explain or condense those supporting reasons in the body paragraphs. Make sure to talk about the evidence the author employed as well as the conclusions they came to concerning each individual subject. For clarity, try to limit yourself to one supporting argument each body paragraph.
    • When summarizing the author's points in your body paragraphs, employ terms that inform your audience that you are paraphrasing. Here is a list of some of those sentences (replace "the author" with the last name of your author):
      • According to the author...
      • The author contends in the paper that....
      • According to the author....
      • The author believes...
      • Based on these findings, the author contends that...
  • Conclusion

    • Begin your conclusion by restating the topic sentence or thesis statement you stated in your introduction on the major point of the author. Make a point of repeating this from your first statement. This part assists you in expressing the underlying meaning of the author's arguments as well as the overall meaning of the article. Describe any further questions, implications, or concerns raised by the article in a few phrases. You should also mention any restrictions that the author's points may have. This is especially crucial when summarizing an empirical piece because there are always additional elements to consider while conducting research.

Summarzing Multiple Articles in a Paper

You may be required to create a summary of several articles at times. It's one thing to understand how to summarize an item, but how do you tie it all together when there are other articles to focus on? The good news is that it isn't as difficult as it appears.

  • A multiple-article summary can be broken down in a variety of ways. If two authors reach similar results, you can choose to break it down by argument. In this scenario, you would just include the evidence that both authors use. Alternatively, you might divide it by author perspective and concentrate on one author's comments per paragraph. This second technique is more useful when summaries must be kept short.
  • You can also select to compare and contrast what each author has mentioned when summarizing various articles. Begin with a paragraph or two outlining the commonalities between the authors' ideas, followed by paragraphs about the discrepancies and how each author arrived at their own conclusion.
  • To illustrate, assume you've picked two articles about childhood obesity in the United States. Both publications argue that childhood obesity is a national epidemic, but they reach different conclusions about what causes are to blame. You'd include one body paragraph explaining why both authors believe it's an epidemic, with evidence from both authors. Then you'd provide body paragraphs on each author's various supporting points. In conclusion, you would describe both points of view in relation to the common purpose.

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