8. Summarizing Sources

Summarizing sources accurately gives you the opportunity to keep your readers’ attention focused where you want it.

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8.1  When and why to write summaries

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When and why to write summaries

When and why to write summaries

Learn when using a summary is a good method of incorporating source material into your paper.

Example

Know when and how to summarize

Summarize a source when you need to present the main point in a work or a passage, but the exact wording and details are not important.

8.2  Reading and writing to create a summary

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Reading and writing to create a summary

Reading and writing to create a summary

Writing a good summary begins with careful reading of a source, and it often takes two or more readings to fully comprehend the ideas and details.

Example

Use signal phrases to introduce summaries

Different disciplines have varying guidelines, but you should always alert readers to the source of a summary and use introductory words that provide context.

8.3  Avoiding interpretation

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Avoiding interpretation

Avoiding interpretation

When you write a summary, your role is to accurately represent the author’s ideas, not your own. Learn to avoid accidental interpretation or analysis when summarizing.

Example

Summarize carefully to avoid plagiarism

While you summarize a passage or long work, avoid looking at the original and draft a summary that is entirely in your own words.

8.4  Using summaries in an annotated bibliography

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Using summaries in an annotated bibliography

Using summaries in an annotated bibliography

Including a brief summary of a source and how you might use it to craft your paper in your annotated bibliography is a great tool to incorporate your research into your paper.

Example

Summarize the contents of a source for an annotated bibliography

To summarize a source usefully for an annotated bibliography, you will need to carefully describe and show that you understand it, without adding commentary or evaluation.

8.5  Citing your source

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Citing your source

Citing your source

Since summarizing ideas from your source does not make them your own, it’s always important to fully cite and credit your original source.

Example

Summary requires citation

Include the source of any material in your research project that you summarize.

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