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Summarizing in Academic Writing


As described in Citing and Referencing in Academic Writing, summarizing is one of the three methods for including someone else's ideas to back up your ideas, arguments, and claims in academic writing. Like paraphrasing, summarizing is a way of including someone else’s ideas in your own work by rewriting them in your own words without changing the meanings. Yet, different from paraphrasing in which the original oral and written ideas are reframed without changing the meanings, summarizing shortens a longer passage into a smaller one but keeps its core point or meaning intact. It is a way to extract the most important points from a text and rewrite them in your own word. As It leaves out superfluous details and covers only the key essence of the ideas conveyed, it is very effective for overviewing a source.

Like a quotation or paraphrase, a summary should be coherent with the rest of your paper, particularly in style and grammar. It should also be cited in the text where you use it and the full reference should be included in the reference section.

The following is a practical procedure you can follow to summarize materials in your academic writing.

  1. Decide how big the summary should be (conforming to the audience’s needs) so that you are aware of how much material to collect from the source.
  2. Read the source carefully to get a full understanding. Look at the sections and subsections of the text to understand the author’s ideas flow and organization. Identify the text’s thesis and/or main ideas to get what the author means to convey. Figure out the table, chart, or images it includes. Then, differentiate major details from minor details. See how the major details are connected to the thesis and main ideas.  Remove minor details and examples to get a more condensed text. Consider also the transition words employed (e.g., “conversely”, “thus”, and “moreover”) as they guide you through the logic of the text’s argument.
  3. Based on your reading, take notes about the main idea and supporting points you think you need to include in your summary.
  4. Then write the summary based on the notes by using different phrasing of sentence structure from the original source. Re-order and reorganize the ideas to make the summary logical. There is no need to maintain the exact same order as the original source.
  5. Avoid including your ideas in the summary because it is a condensed form of the author’s ideas and intent. Thus, make sure that it conveys the same information as the original did and has the same meaning.

Look how the procedure is implemented in the following example:

Conceptual papers on short stories use in EFL classrooms published from 2011 to 2020 reveal that the aspects concerning the benefits and effectiveness of short story use, criteria for selecting short stories that meet students’ needs and interests, issues on using local short stories instead of native ones, and teaching methods, strategies, and activities for using short stories in EFL classroom have been quite rigorously studied. Two urgent issues future research needs to focus on are obstacles encountered by teachers in using short stories and ICT use in EFL learning using short stories. 

This study reviewed only conceptual papers accessible on the Google Scholar site. Future reviews are recommended to include relevant thesis and dissertations not yet indexed by Google Scholar. Reviewing empirical research reports on short stories use in EFL classrooms is also recommended.

Source: Pardede, P. (2021). A Review of Current Conceptual Research on Short Stories Use in EFL Classrooms. Journal of English Teaching, 7(1), 31 - 42.

A summary of the passage would be:

Pardede’s (2021) review shows that the conceptual articles on the use of short stories in EFL education published in 2011-2020 focused on advantages and efficacy, works selection principles, native vs, local stories use matters, and instructional strategies, methods, and activities. The reviewed articles have not rigorously discussed teaching difficulties and the use of ICT in EFL learning through stories. He also suggested future reviews to cover unindexed pertinent thesis and dissertation and field research.


Pardede, P. (2021). A Review of Current Conceptual Research on Short Stories Use in EFL Classrooms. Journal of English Teaching, 7(1), 31 - 42.



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