How to Summarize a Research Paper

 Summarize a Research Paper
If you were assigned to summarize a research paper, you need to know techniques on how to provide a good summary. First of all, you need to remember that a research paper is constructed by several different parts. The best option here is to use these parts as sections for your summary. 

Parts of Paper

Read the paper and try to understand the main idea and identify the parts. Then we can proceed to writing the summary.

If you are writing the summary as a part of your report, it is better to start writing after the report is complete. Perhaps there will be some information added later so you won't have to add it to the summary as well. Start by reviewing report or research paper and retrieve all main ideas. As soon as you found them, be sure to limit them as much as you can. The length of the summary is one of the keys to success. Use the following guidelines:


  • In some cases research papers contain an abstract which is supposed to provide expectations regarding the paper. If the research paper you were assigned to summarize contain it, it is the shortest and concise summary of the content.
  • In case when the paper does not contain the abstract, refer to introduction. Here you can read about the goal of the author and background of the research. Thesis statement, or the main idea of the research paper, is usually contained in the last sentence of the introduction. Most things contained here will serve as introduction to your own summary.
  • Find a literature review of the research paper and identify the main arguments made there. Regardless if the arguments support or oppose the paper, you should write them down.
  • Describe the reason for the author to use the methodology in the paper. Identify whether these methods were appropriate for the research conducted.
  • List down the data analysis from the paper. Take only important details.
  • Retrieve the results of the data analysis in the paper. Such results may include outcomes of specific experiments and so on.
  • Research paper includes a discussion of the results in the conclusion. In other words, the author gives possible options and recommendations for future studies on the topic.
  • Provide rewording of the conclusion of the research paper.

Be sure not to include your personal opinion about any aspect of the research paper. You have to provide objective data and not your own position. Also do not mention any unrelated studies or remarks. You have to be concise and get strictly to your point. Do not exceed length limits as well. They will most likely to be provided by your tutor or handbook.

Summary for research papers are often included along with the paper so keep it short because the readers might lose motivation to read the entire content. Also, it is a good idea to avoid terms that need to be explained because this way you can add more length to the summary.