CoverObjectivesThe Writing ProcessAddressing the PromptPrewritingWritingRevisingOriginalityTimed Writing 1Integrated Writing 1Introduction to Academic EssaysEssay Shape and OrganizationIntroduction ParagraphsBody ParagraphsConclusion ParagraphsExample EssayTimed Writing 2Integrated Writing 2Descriptive EssaysExample Descriptive Essay 1Example Descriptive Essay 2PrewritingWriting: Word ChoiceSources: QuotingRevisingRevise: Descriptive EssayTimed Writing 3Integrated Writing 3Comparison EssaysExample Comparison Essay 1Example Comparison Essay 2PrewritingWriting: UnitySources: SummarizingRevisingRevise: Comparison EssayTimed Writing 4Integrated Writing 4Cause-Effect EssaysExample Cause-Effect Essay 1Example Cause-Effect Essay 2PrewritingWriting: CohesionParaphrasingRevisingRevise: Cause-Effect EssayTimed Writing 5Integrated Writing 5Additional ResourcesAppendix 1: DevelopmentAppendix 2: PunctuationAppendix 3: Using Academic VocabularyAppendix 4: Finding SourcesAppendix 5: In-Text CitationsAnswer KeyThe Writing Process AKIntroduction to Academic Essays AKUsing Sources AKDescriptive Essays AKComparison Essays AKCause-Effect Essays AKRefining Writing AKWriting for the TOEFL AKNuts and Bolts AK
Academic B Writing

Sources: Summarizing

When you summarize information, you explain the most important parts of a source text in your own words. You typically summarize something to make it shorter. The page number is not required in the in-text citation for a summary.

An effective summary—

  • explains the most important parts of the original.
  • is written in your own words.
  • keeps the original meaning.
  • does not merely cut and copy from the original.
  • is shorter than the original.

Below is an excerpt from a website article that describes water pollution. This example will be used on the next several pages to illustrate how to write a summary.

Example Source

"Because of the differences in the way the aircraft fly, there are also differences in what they’re able to do. An airplane is more limited than a helicopter in its abilities and will not be able to do all the things that make a helicopter so cool and useful. For example, an airplane needs a long runway in order to take off while a helicopter can take off by lifting straight up. This means that a helicopter is able to go places that an airplane can’t because it will be able to get out again without a long runway. Helicopters are able to land in many places that would otherwise be inaccessible, which makes them very useful in search and rescue missions." (Crookston, 2020, para. 5).

https://edtechbooks.org/-SHJu 

Example: Summary

One of the significant differences is that airplanes have more limitations to taking off and manuvering in different spaces than a helicopters (Crookston, 2020, para. 5).

Here are some simple steps you can follow in order to create a summary:

  1. Determine your purpose.
  2. Read or listen to what you will summarize.
  3. Make a list of the main points.
  4. Write the summary.
  5. Compare the summary to the original.

Determine your purpose

The purpose of your summary will help you determine which details you should include. Typically, your summaries for academic writing have a similar purpose: you need to explain academic information without your opinion. You may also have a more specific focus in mind that will help you decide which details are important and which details you should not include in your summary.

Example Source

"I hope they’ll gain an understanding about what fun actually is: a confluence of playfulness, connection and flow, as I’ve come to define it. In other words, they’ll be able to know true fun when they feel it, and give it a name. Right now, there isn’t a very good definition of “fun” (other than mine *laughs*) if you look it up in a dictionary. That means that a lot of things and activities are marketed as “fun” when they’re actually what I call “fake fun,” or the junk-food category of fun — it makes us feel good in the moment, but unfulfilled in the long run. (I’m looking at you, social media!)" (Bryzski, 2020, para. 7)

https://edtechbooks.org/-eqYX 

Example: Summary 1

According to author Catherine Price in a recent interview (2022), one reason we often feel unfulfilled by the fun activities we usually experience is because they are not true fun, which she defines fun as the result of playfulness, connection, and flow.

Example: Summary 2

Actual fun is caused by the combination of playfulnesss, connection, and flow, which are characteristics not associated with many of the usual activities we categorize as fun, such as using social media (Brzyski, 2020).

Read/listen

Read or listen carefully so you understand the source well enough to summarize it.

Make a list of the main points

As you read/listen, pay attention to the main ideas and major details of the source material. You should make a list of these main points either while you read/listen or just after. If you can write on the text, it may help to underline main points or cross out minor details. If you are summarizing a lecture, you can do something similar with your lecture notes. As you write your list, focus on ideas rather than copying the exact words from the source. Compare the example paragraph and the example list below.

Example: Quote

"In 2020, 74 per cent of the global population used safely managed drinking water services. National estimates were available for 138 countries and four out of eight SDG regions, representing 45 per cent of the global population. Coverage was lower in rural areas (60 per cent) than in urban areas (86 per cent), which were home to two out of three of the 5.8 billion people using safely managed services. By 2020 a total of 84 countries had achieved universal  (>99 per cent) coverage of at least basic drinking water services." (UNICEF, 2021, para. 3)

https://edtechbooks.org/-EeIR 

Example: List

  • 74 percent of people have clean water.
  • A higher percentage of people in urban areas have clean water than in rural areas

A lot of details were left off the list because they were not essential for the summary. There is not one perfect way to make a list for your summary.

Write the summary

Without looking at/listening to the original, use your list to write your summary. Again, it is important to focus on the ideas. Use your own words to write your summary.

Example: List

  • 74 percent of people have clean water.
  • A higher percentage of people in urban areas have clean water than in rural areas

Example: Summary

Globally, 74% of the population has access to safe, clean water services, and cities have better water safety than towns and villages (UNICEF, 2021).

Notice how the items on the list are not just copied and pasted together into one big sentence. The ideas are connected together carefully. The order is changed a little and some of the ideas are condensed.

Compare to the original

After you write your summary, you should compare it to the original. Make sure that the ideas have not been changed, but that the words/syntax are distinct. Make revisions as necessary.

Example: Quote

"In 2020, 74 per cent of the global population used safely managed drinking water services. National estimates were available for 138 countries and four out of eight SDG regions, representing 45 per cent of the global population. Coverage was lower in rural areas (60 per cent) than in urban areas (86 per cent), which were home to two out of three of the 5.8 billion people using safely managed services. By 2020 a total of 84 countries had achieved universal  (>99 per cent) coverage of at least basic drinking water services." (UNICEF, 2021, para. 3)

https://edtechbooks.org/-EeIR 

Example: Summary

Globally, 74% of the population has access to safe, clean water services, and cities have better water safety than towns and villages (UNICEF, 2021).

Exercises

Exercise 1: Evaluate Summaries

Evaluate the summaries. Which summary is most effective? Identify features of the ineffective summaries that make them ineffective.

Original:

"Due to how affordable the clothing is and how new trends convince consumers to seek out more, the value of clothes may diminish in the eyes of consumers. As of 2019, the current report shows that 62 million metric tons of apparel were consumed globally." (Le, 2020, para. 4).

  1. The fast fashion industry causes consumers to buy more clothes (Le, 2020).
     
  2. Inexpensive clothes and rapidly changing trends have increased consumption to a reported 62 million metric tons (Le, 2020).
     
  3. The consumption of 62 million metric tons of clothing worldwide is directly linked to our cultural values and perceptions of the clothing industry (Le, 2020).
     
  4. Due to how affordable the clothing is and how new trends convince consumers to seek out more, the value of clothes may diminish in the eyes of consumers. As of 2019, the current report shows that 62 million metric tons of apparel were consumed globally (Le, 2020).

Source: https://edtechbooks.org/-zKqS 

2 Exercise: Write a summary

Choose one of the quotes to summarize. Follow the steps in this chapter as you write your summary.

1. "Acidic precipitation can be caused by natural (volcanoes) and man-made activities, such as from cars and in the generation of electricity. The precursors, or chemical forerunners, of acid rain formation result from both natural sources, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation, and man-made sources, primarily emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) resulting from fossil fuel combustion. The burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil) by power-production companies and industries releases sulfur into the air that combines with oxygen to form sulfur dioxide (SO2). Exhausts from cars cause the formation of nitrogen oxides in the air." (Water Science School, 2019, para. 2)

2. "The inflated ego that comes with success — the bigger salary, the nicer office, the easy laughs — often makes us feel as if we’ve found the eternal answer to being a leader. But the reality is, we haven’t. Leadership is about people, and people change every day. If we believe we’ve found the universal key to leading people, we’ve just lost it. If we let our ego determine what we see, what we hear, and what we believe, we’ve let our past success damage our future success." (Hougaard & Carter, 2018, "Face Challenges," para. 14).

3. "Camouflage, also called cryptic coloration, is a defense or tactic that organisms use to disguise their appearance, usually to blend in with their surroundings. Organisms use camouflage to mask their location, identity, and movement. This allows prey to avoid predators, and for predators to sneak up on prey." (Boudreau et. al., 2022, para. 2).

4. "Pidgins and creoles are both the result of what happens when you blend two or more languages, but they're not the same. Put simply, a pidgin is the first-generation version of a language that forms between native speakers of different languages — a makeshift communication bridge, if you will. A creole is a pidgin with native speakers, or one that's been passed down to a second generation of speakers who will formalize it and fortify the bridge into a robust structure with a fully developed grammar and syntax" (Koyfman, 2017, para. 3).

https://edtechbooks.org/-hiWh 

https://edtechbooks.org/-KhVu 

https://edtechbooks.org/-HZwR 

https://edtechbooks.org/-qTb 

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