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Video Transcripts

Summarizing Sources: The Process of Summarizing

Last updated 1/5/2017

 

Visual: The screen shows the Walden University Writing Center logo along with a pencil and notebook. “Walden University Writing Center.” “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. The background changes to the title of the video with books in the background.

Audio: Guitar music plays.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title “The Process of Summarizing” and the following:

  • Actively read the source
  • Summarize the main points

Audio: To effectively summarize a source, writers should focus on two steps: actively reading the source and summarizing the source’s main points. Both steps are crucial to accurately and effectively summarizing, so let’s look at each step in-depth.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following: Actively read the source

  • Highlight main points
  • Add comments & questions
  • Outline headings & topic sentences
  • Look at abstract & key terms

Audio: Active reading is important in all academic writing, but it’s also important in summarizing. Without a clear understanding of what a source said, it’s impossible to accurately represent that source in your own writing. With this in mind, be sure to use active reading techniques when preparing to summarize a source.

Active reading techniques include note taking by highlighting main points and adding comments and questions about the source in the margins or in your notes. By actively engaging with the source—writing on it, commenting on it, and taking notes—you’ll be more apt to engage with the information you’re reading, leading to better understanding and easier summarizing later on.

Other active reading techniques you can use include outlining the source by its headings and topic sentences, as well as paying close attention to the source’s abstract and key terms. Writers use headings and topic sentences to help direct you, the reader, so use them as a sort of roadmap for the source, guiding and showing you the source’s main points. The abstract is helpful because it’s a broad overview of the source, so along with key terms it will give you clues about what the source’s main points are.

Lastly, note that to summarize a source you might find that you have to read the source multiple times. That’s okay! Academic sources like the ones you use in your writing at Walden can be dense at times and difficult to understand. Take the time to read the source as many times as necessary for you to feel confident in your understanding of the source’s ideas.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following: Summarize the main points

  • High level overview
  • Paraphrase
  • Relate to your purpose

Audio: Once you’ve read the source and are confident that you understand its main points, you’re ready to write your summary.

When summarizing, remember that you’re providing a high-level overview of the source. You won’t focus on each individual point or every piece of data the source discussed; instead, focus on the source’s few main or most important points.

One additional note to help you focus on the source’s main points is that a summary is always shorter than the original because it leaves out details the original source discusses. For example, if you’re reading a 10 page journal article, you should be able to summarize it in one paragraph, potentially two paragraphs at most. You can also think about it this way: If you were giving a colleague the gist of the article, what main points would you include to ensure he or she understood the overall points of the source?

When summarizing, you should also focus on paraphrasing the source rather than quoting. Paraphrasing—rephrasing the source’s specific ideas, information, or data in your own words—helps you to incorporate a scholarly voice in your summary, but it’s also the practical choice. Paraphrasing means you can include information more concisely than if you were quoting.

Finally, depending on what assignment you’re summarizing for, you may want to relate the source you’re summarizing to the project you’re writing. Some assignments will consist solely of summarizing a source, but most of the time you’re summarizing a source as part of a longer paper in which you have your own research goals or thesis statement. In those cases, it’s helpful to relate your summary to your own writing purpose, connecting the source to your own ideas.

Additionally, note that your purpose in writing might also affect what main points you focus on in your summary. If you were writing about national pre-K education policy, for example, and the source you’re summarizing talks about both pre-K policy and elementary school policy, you may choose to focus more time on summarizing the source’s pre-K policy ideas.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following:

            Cummings and Bridgman’s (2016) study focused on how management students’ introductory courses are taught, exploring ways to encourage more diverse perspectives and research in management. The authors found that common introductory management textbooks presented a monocultural view of the management field, which they suggested could limit students’ understanding of the field. Cummings and Bridgman proposed that instructors instead widen their scope when teaching the history of management, focusing on management in geographic locations outside of the United States, as well as focusing on primary sources rather than secondary sources in an effort to broaden the diversity of management data.

  • Original source = 19 pages; Summary = 3 sentences
  • All sentences are paraphrased
  • Paper’s focus = Strategies for increasing diversity

Audio: Let’s take a look at a sample summary so we can see how to put these tips for summarizing main points into action.

First, note that the original source that I’m summarizing by Cummings and Bridgman (2016) was 19 pages long. I’ve summarized it, though, in one paragraph of just three sentences by focusing just on the main points and giving the reader a high-level overview.

Second, note how each sentence is paraphrased and doesn’t include any quotes. Paraphrasing important points allowed me to present a lot of information in a concise way, something quoting wouldn’t allow me to do.

Finally, I’ve made sure to discuss my paper’s main point—strategies for increasing diversity in my management classroom—by talking about Cummings and Bridgman’s (2016) suggestions for increasing diversity in management research.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following:

  • Actively read the source
  • Summarize the main points

Proof, revise, and cite

Audio: There’s one final step in the process of summarizing: proofing, revising, and citing in your summary. Be sure to review your summary, proofing for typos, revising for clarity, and citing the source you are summarizing.

 

Visual: The slide changes to the following:

            Cummings and Bridgman’s (2016) study focused on how management students’ introductory courses are taught, exploring ways to encourage more diverse perspectives and research in management. The authors found that common introductory management textbooks presented a monocultural view of the management field, which they suggested could limit students’ understanding of the field. Cummings and Bridgman proposed that instructors instead widen their scope when teaching the history of management, focusing on management in geographic locations outside of the United States, as well as focusing on primary sources rather than secondary sources in an effort to broaden the diversity of management data.

Proof, revise, and cite

Audio: Here’s my sample summary again. Note in particular how I’ve cited my source, making it clear throughout the paragraph which source I’m talking about and ensuring the reader could easily find this source in the references list if needed.

 

Visual: Slide changes to display the following: Questions? E-mail writingsupport@waldenu.edu.