Sample: Summary Mini-Lesson

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Dr. R: Let’s talk about summary. Based on the APA homework and the diagnostic rough drafts, it's pretty clear some folks are still having difficulties discerning between summary and paraphrase. The distinction between these two is incredibly important to grasp, as your summary in your Essay 1 must be clear and concise. Note that you should be able to summarize the main argument claims of your chosen article in a single paragraph. OK, so what is a summary?

When we talk about summaries, we are usually talking about the summary of the main ideas of an entire work (although, if we’re focusing on a specific chapter or article in a larger work, we’d then be summarizing that one major component. For instance, most of us are summarizing individual articles, not the entire issue of a magazine or journal). Summary is used to “state the major ideas of an entire source or part of a source [see above] in your own words” (Faigley, 2010, p. 20). Note that the summaries are significantly shorter than the source. Most academic guides recommend that a summary be no longer than ¼ the length of the original source. In other words, if you have a four page article and your summary is two pages long, that’s not an effective summary. Faigley even mentions that summaries are often “a paragraph or perhaps even a sentence” (emphasis mine] (2010, p. 631). Note the key ideas in the section above—summaries are short and they are in your own words. They only focus on the “main points, not most of the examples or supporting materials” (Faigley, 2010, p. 20). To put this in layman’s terms for you as you check your summary work, note that this means that words like “uses examples” or “uses statistics” or “Smith discusses a man in Ireland who” are not summary appropriate—those are areas where you are actually paraphrasing supporting data/details, not summarizing the author’s main ideas. How are paraphrase and summary different?

First, we tend to paraphrase specific examples or sentences. A...
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