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Academic Writing

What is a Summary in academic writing?

A summary is a key skill in academic writing in which you distil the key points from another source and include it in your own writing for discussion, to support your unique argument, take a different position or compare and contrast the position of authors.  A summary is a short account of the central ideas of a text.

To produce a succinct summary you need to ask yourself “what is this text about?” and “what are the key points in it?

Summaries are not a place for personal opinions, background knowledge and personal information.

A Summary should be two or three sentences long, should cover the main points and key ideas and must be in your own words.

Summary three step process:

1. First read and comprehend the text
May involve unpacking lengthy sentences and decoding challenging vocabulary

2. Identify main ideas and key points
Must have a good enough understanding of the text to distinguish between essential and nonessential information

3. Finally express this information in your own words
Summarizing a text requires both comprehension and expression skills

As you can see the three step process requires that you are able to understand the text and have your own sufficient vocabulary to express the key aspects of the text. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of creating a summary. There is no quick fix to this challenge; however discussing the meaning of the text with peers engaged in the same subject area can help to clarify the meaning of a text.