WHAT YOU NEED AND WHERE TO GET IT
1. The research article:
Find one empirical article from the list on page four of this document. To determine which
article you would like to summarize go to the Bow Valley College Library Web Page. Go to the
library e-resources and select LLC databases on the left hand side. You will discover an A-Z
listing of the databases available. All articles on the list will be found in the PSYCLit and ERIC
Some articles are extremely difficult to summarize and some are much easier. Choose an article
with interesting results and a clear method that will allow you to demonstrate that you can apply
what you have learned in the lectures to new material. Papers with a single study are usually
easier to summarize than multi-experiment papers.
WRITING YOUR SUMMARY
1. Read the article. Identify key points: the research topic, hypotheses, what was done, the
results, and how the experimenter interpreted the results. Circling these points will help you find
them when you write. Do your best to understand the article. Write notes in the margin and use a
highlighter to mark important sections. Talk about the article with others and see if you can
explain it to somebody who has not read the paper. You are encouraged to use half the time that
you plan to spend on this assignment on this step.
2. Write the summary. The summary should be a condensed version of the article rather than an
article abstract. Abstracts are more concise and reflect the authors’ decisions about information
that should be mentioned. Avoid "lifting" sentences or paraphrasing from the article or the
abstract. Use your own words. Here is one possible plan. The suggested numbers of sentences
are JUST GUIDELINES. You do not have to match the recommendations. There are other
possible ways to organize the summary. Do not worry about getting the number of sentences per
section to match perfectly the suggested numbers below.
Possible plan with the approximate number of sentences per topic
- 3-5: Background (why was the research conducted; why is the research question interesting)
- 1-2: Purpose of study (What is the researchers’ hypothesis? Are there several hypotheses?)
- 5-8: Methods (Who participated, how many participated, what were the materials, what is the
research design – what conditions were compared, measures, procedure – what was done. Be sure
to indicate what the independent variable(s), levels, and dependent variable(s) are for your
- 3-6: Results (describe the key findings) Did the results support the researchers’ hypotheses?
- 4-8: Discussion (What do the results mean? What are the conclusions? What are the
implications? Are there plans for further research based on the test of this hypothesis?)
Divide your summary into several paragraphs. APA style headings are appropriate.
3. Revise the summary. One good step is to have someone else (who has not read the article)
read your rough draft. Then have your reader describe the article in his or her own words. What
readers say will clue you into anything you have left out. You may also take your draft to the
Tutoring Service offered by Learner Success Services. Then revise your paper.