Useful Tips

How To Write A Research Summary

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Your aim is to communicate information about your experiment in the most efficient and/or concise manner possible. Your research article should have at least seven sections, which include the title, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion and references.

Pick A Reason For Writing Your Research Summary

There are two reasons. The first is where you write a longer research summary to remind yourself about the research paper later when you need to take notes. The second reason is to create a summary to add into your essay, in which case, your summary needs to focus on how your research relates to the topic of your essay.

A Skeleton Frame For Your First Draft

Since you are reading an article about writing a research summary, you probably need a bit of a head start because the material given to you by your college was a little lacking in direction. Here is a simple framework you can follow to get you started.

  • Write out your research question
  • Briefly explain why your research question is interesting
  • Simply state that is it interesting because of the points it makes, or because it relates to your research paper (essay)
  • State the hypothesis that was tested
  • Briefly describe any testing methods
  • Methods may include procedure, test design, participants, what was manipulated and what materials were used
  • Mention independent variables such as what was measured
  • Mention dependent variables such as how the research’s data was analyzed
  • Briefly describe any results and mention if they were significant
  • Explain what you think the implications of the results are
  • Explain how the implications relate to your notes or to the research essay you are writing
  • Do not overstate the importance of the finding by remembering that one source is not evidence
  • Write about the results and don’t be afraid of adding detail
  • Mention the interpretation of the results and maybe your interpretation too
  • The results should relate to the hypothesis that was tested

Remember that you are writing your research summary either as a way to help you take notes about the research at a later date, or because you are going to add this research as partial evidence for a point you are proving in your research paper (your essay).

Before You Start Your First Draft

Writing a research summary is always easier if you fully understand the research you are summarizing. It may be worth your while spending time reading and re-reading the research until you can easily explain it in your own words to another person.

Altering Your Work To Make It More Accurate

Write as much as you like, and then cut out your vague points at a later time. Remove less important or redundant information, and add information for completeness if needed. Re-read the research question to help you remain focused on it, be as concise as possible, and avoid any generalities.

The skeleton template given in the section above will be easier to complete if you read the research, and then skim read it while looking for certain elements. Skim read and look for the sections listed below:

Title – look for the research question and the reason for the study
Introduction – look for the tested hypotheses or hypothesis
Method – look for how the hypothesis was tested
Results – look at the tables and figures for their findings
Discussion – look at how the researcher interpreted the results

Do not rely on the research’s abstract to identify the main points of the paper. Re-read the research and ask yourself how it relates to the research question, and maybe how it relates to the research question in your essay. Ask yourself if any parts of the original research question still remain unanswered.

Edit Your Research Summary To Target Your Reader

If you are writing a research summary in college, your target audience is a semi-intelligent, naive, interest-but-lazy reader. Include important details without assuming your reader has extensive prior knowledge, and define your esoteric terms the first time you use them.

  • Re-read what you have written after your final edit to catch correctly spelled typos.
  • Use the correct language, such as saying the research “supports” a point rather than “proving” a point because a single study cannot prove a point.
  • Read through your work with the aim of making it more concise. Cut out any wordy sections.
  • Avoid vague language, especially when referring to results. Don’t say “this shows.” Say, “the x result shows.”
  • If you make direct quotes, then try to paraphrase them. People expect paraphrasing in research summaries.

Conclusion – A Word On Plagiarism

Before you start, remember that plagiarism is common when students write research summaries. Students are tasked with summarizing the work of another person, and in some cases, it leads to accidentally verbatim copying. This sort of thing can be easily avoided by making bullet point notes on whatever you read, and then expanding the bullet point notes at a later date. As you make your bullet point notes, make sure they are not the same as what is written in the research itself. When you expand your bullet points, you are forced to use your own words, which all-but eliminates the chance of plagiarism.