Writing a Summary Characteristics of a Good Summary



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Writing a Summary

Characteristics of a Good Summary

  • objectivity
  • completeness
  • brevity

Purpose

  • to show understanding of the essay
  • to inform the thesis of the essay to other people
  • to prepare for a response to the essay

Structure

  • How is the summary organized? What is the typical beginning of a summary to an essay? Can you identify the stage of thought?

Language

  • Can you find some specific language features for the kind of summary—grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure?

The First Sentence

  • The name of the author
  • The source
  • The controlling idea of the text

Summary Beginnings

  • Jeffrey Pfeiffer, in his article “The Ambiguity of Leadership,” states / explains /argues / describes…
  • In the seventh chapter of his book Psychology, author Charles G. Morris states / explains /argues / describes…
  • According to Gilbert Couts in his report entitled “Working Conditions and Their Effects on Employees,” (+ Controlling Idea)…
  • The author of “Barriers to Communication” states / explains /argues / describes…
  • [article of an unknown author]

Some Useful Phrases

  • In this article [about________] the author asserts, ‘…’
  • In this article [about________] the author asserts that ‘…’
  • (alternative verbs: states, claims, declares, insists, holds, says)
  • The thesis of this article is [that]…
  • (alternative nouns: main point, main idea, central theme)
  • According to the writer,…
  • In the writer’s opinion,…
  • Based on his/her research, the writer believes that…

Write the First Sentence of a Summary

  • Are the Firstborns Better?
  • Freud, Kant, Beethoven, Dante, Einstein and Julius Caesar—what do they have in common? All of these eminent men were first children. Although many later-born children also become famous, certain studies hint that a first born child is more likely to excel. For example, more firstborns become National Merit Scholars, earn doctor’s degrees and rate mention in Who’s Who.

The Writing of the First Sentence

  • The author of “Are Firstborns Better” states that the first child in a family is more likely to have achieved excellence than are those children who are born later.

Pre-Paraphrasing Techniques

  • Alternating active and passive
  • Social motives play a very important role.
  • A very important role is played by social motives.
  • You can see that social motives are very important.
  • It can be seen that social motives are very important.

Pre-Paraphrasing Techniques

  • Alternating word forms
  • 1. Regan succeeded Carter as President of the United States.
  • Regan was Cater’s successor.
  • Cater’s successor was Regan.
  • 2. A manager’s success is often due to perseverance.
  • A manager often succeeds because of perseverance.
  • Perseverance leads to managerial success.
  • Successful management s often a result of perseverance.
  • A manager who preservers often succeeds.

Pre-Paraphrasing Techniques

  • Use of a synonymous word or expression
  • Researchers suggest…
  • Scientists explain…
  • Although many late-born children also become famous, certain studies hint that a firstborn child is more likely to excel.
  • The first child in a family is more likely to achieve excellence than are those children who are born later.

Pre-Paraphrasing Techniques

  • Alternating clause/phrase structures
  • [reductions]
  • Although neurons come in many different shapes and sizes, they are all specialized to receive and transmit information. [adv. clause]
  • Despite their different shapes and sizes, neurons are all specialized to receive and transmit information. [adv. phrase]
  • The different shaped and sized neurons are all specialized to receive and transmit information. [noun phrase]
  • The axons that run from the base of the spinal cord…[adj. clause]
  • The axons running from the base of the spinal cord…[adj. phrase]
  • The axon fiber is very thin. [sentence]
  • The very thin axon fiber… [noun phrase]
  • [expansions]
  • The short cells branching out around the cell body are called dendrites. [adj. phrase]
  • The short fibers which branch out around the cell body are called dendrites. [adj. clause]
  • Short fibers branch out around the cell body; they are called dendrites. [sentences]
  • In common with all other cells, a neuron has a nucleus. [noun phrase]
  • What a neuron has in common with all other cells is a nucleus. [noun clause]
  • A neuron has something in common with all other cells, and that is a nucleus. [sentence]

Questions to Judge a Valid Summary

  • Did you include all the important ideas?
  • Did you omit the unnecessary words and phrases?
  • Does the summary read smoothly? A. use of transitions; B. use of sentence combining
  • Would a reader of your summary who had not read the article have a clear idea about the article?
  • Thank You !


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