How to Correctly Summarize an Article (2018 Edition)

  • Last Edited: September 18, 2018

Don’t just summarize the text, analyze it! How many times have you heard your teacher say that? Often when assigning an analytical essay of some sort, teachers will give a stern warning out against the dangers of just summarizing a novel, short story or article. This is because they want you to be able to demonstrate that you have more than a laundry list of the main points in your head—but can deconstruct and explore them in a meaningful manner. They want you to do more than just regurgitate the basics.

However, this doesn’t mean that regurgitating or summarizing an article is without value. It’s a very valuable skill to have, mostly because it forces you to decide what is important versus unimportant about what you read. You are forced to be able to condense things into their most essential. This takes knowledge and skill. And if you’ve found this site, you probably have both.

This guide will show you how to properly summarize an article.  You should be a professional summarizer once you are done reading our tips and tricks 🙂

To Summarize: Defined

To summarize means to take the main points/arguments/details/facts from an article and restate them in a way that is simple and clear. By definition, this takes a certain amount of aptitude, as you need the discernment to determine what is important and what is not. Furthermore, you need to be able to have the brainpower to take complex ideas and restate them in a way is straightforward. Being able to do something so basic actually demonstrates real mastery of the material. The most important element s of a good article summary is that it only includes the most important stuff and that it is easy to follow.

Summarizing Tools

A highlighting tool

Whether you’re looking at a paper article or one off a screen, using a tool that allows you to highlight chunks of text that contains main ideas is important.  You need to be able to move through the article, scanning it for important points, and highlighting those points, while moving on.

A secondary highlighting tool

It can often be very useful to have another highlighter in a different color. The secondary color can be used to highlight evidence or examples that the author uses to support their points. Using a secondary color can often make the entire task of summarizing go much faster.

Scrap paper or blank document

You want to have a spare place to jot down any notes or thoughts that strike you as you’re going through the document. A certain phrase might come to you that is a perfect way or restating something. Having paper or blank document open that is there for you to jot things down is vital.

Dictionary

If the article that needs summarizing is very dense, or contains a lot of jargon, you’re going to need a physical or online dictionary open and ready. Some students hate using a dictionary, as it can make them feel like they’re eight years old again, but with really complex writing sometimes there just isn’t a way around it. You need to show that you have command of these complex ideas by writing them simply and often a dictionary is the most direct tool to make that happen.

Thesaurus

Since so much of summarizing revolves around restating something in the simplest form. This means not repeating words used directly from the article and paraphrasing in your own words. Sometimes finding those synonyms is easy, and sometimes you need the help of a good thesaurus. Regardless, having a paper-based one or online thesaurus at the ready is a wise idea.

How to Summarize an Article

  1. Read the article carefully. Highlight all main points and key statements made by the author.
  2. Highlight all examples or evidence provided by the author with a different color highlighter.
  3. Restate the main point of the article in your own words out loud, in just a few sentences: “This article is basically about…” This will give you a sense of command over the topic of the article, no matter how complex.
  4. Scan through the article and look for sections where you didn’t highlight anything. Check to see if there are any primary or crucial parts you missed.
  5. Write the thesis or the topic sentence of the article in your own words.
  6. Restate the first main point, locating it as highlighted within the text in your primary highlighter color.
  7. Recap in simple language the evidence or reasoning provided by the author.
  8. Repeat this for all the main points of the article.
  9. Reread your summary out loud to make sure it makes sense. Correct any clunky sentences or repetitive transition words.

Summarizing Examples

The key to becoming proficient at creating solid summaries revolves around studying examples and engaging in practice. The more illustrations you read of what a cohesive summary looks like, the more empowered you will be to actually create one yourself. Studying summaries shows you how experts swap out certain words and change the structure of a sentence. Taking the time to examine expert summaries illuminates which details can be left out, and which ones just need to be rephrased.

Nurturing Genius by Tom Clynes

Original Text

“[Psychology Professor Julian] Stanley would affectionately refer to [12-year-old prodigy Joseph] Bates as ‘student zero’ of his Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), which would transform how gifted children are identified and supported by the U.S. education system. As the longest-running longitudinal survey of intellectually talented children, SMPY has for 45 years tracked the careers and accomplishments of some 5,000 individuals, many of whom have gone on to become high-achieving scientists. The study’s ever growing data set has generated more than 400 papers and several books and provided key insights into how to spot and develop talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and beyond.

‘What Julian wanted to know was, How do you find the kids with the highest potential for excellence in what we now call STEM, and how do you boost the chance that they’ll reach that potential?’ says Camilla Benbow, a protégé of Stanley’s who is now dean of education and human development at Vanderbilt University. But Stanley was not interested in just studying bright children; he wanted to nurture their intellect and enhance the odds that they would change the world. His motto, he told his graduate students, was ‘no more dry bones methodology.’

With the first SMPY recruits now at the peak of their careers, what has become clear is how much the precociously gifted outweigh the rest of society in their influence. Many of the innovators who are advancing science, technology and culture are those whose unique cognitive abilities were identified and supported in their early years through enrichment programs such as the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth—which Stanley began in the 1980s as an adjunct to SMPY. At the start, both the study and the center were open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1 percent on university entrance exams. Pioneering mathematicians Terence Tao and Lenhard Ng were 1 percenters, as were Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and musician Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), who all passed through the Hopkins center.

‘Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society,’ says Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke Talent Identification Program, which collaborates with the Hopkins center. Wai combined data from 11 prospective and retrospective longitudinal studies, including SMPY, to demonstrate the correlation between early cognitive ability and adult achievement. ‘The kids who test in the top 1 percent tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs, and federal judges, senators and billionaires,’ he says.

Such results contradict long-established ideas suggesting that expert performance is built mainly through practice—that anyone can get to the top with enough focused effort of the right kind. SMPY, in contrast, suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socioeconomic status. The research emphasizes the importance of nurturing precocious children, at a time when the prevailing focus in the U.S. and other countries is on improving the performance of struggling students. At the same time, the work to identify and support academically talented students has raised troubling questions about the risks of labeling children and the shortfalls of talent searches and standardized tests as a means of identifying high-potential students, especially in poor and rural districts.

‘With so much emphasis on predicting who will rise to the top, we run the risk of selling short the many kids who are missed by these tests,’ says Dona Matthews, a developmental psychologist in Toronto, who co-founded the Center for Gifted Studies and Education at Hunter College. ‘For those children who are tested, it does them no favors to call them gifted or ungifted. Either way, it can really undermine a child’s motivation to learn.’”

Summarized Text

The famed Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), developed by Psychology Professor John Stanley, has changed how America’s institution of education pinpoints and develops their gifted children. Stanley’s SYMPY program is a longitudinal survey of such children that observes their professional lives, trajectories and achievements. This survey has offered crucial illumination on how to identify and nurture genius in STEM fields and elsewhere.

Professor Stanley was guided by one main question: how do you help the most brilliant kids in the country nurture their potential? This question is what separated Stanley from other scientists in this field. He didn’t want to just observe these gifted children: Stanley wanted to actively feed their intellect and ensure they would be able to make an impact on the world.

Now that some of the first SMPY participants are at the peak of their professional trajectories, the survey has demonstrated what Stanley and others have suspected all along. The titans of the science, technology and cultural world are those who were pinpointed by this survey as youths. One can conclude that their contributions to the world clearly outweigh those of other people. They all started as children scoring at the top 1 percent of their mathematical testing. People like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and musician Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga) are all heavy-hitters who moved through this survey. Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke Talent Identification Program, declares that the youths who are identified by SMPY end up being the adults who run the world.

The biggest finding that SMPY has suggested is that hard work isn’t enough to get people of average or above average intelligence. SMPY shows that the early brainpower of a young person is the most influential factor on their achievement: this is more instrumental than practice or economic class. This evidence could redirect the focus of the US educational system, which is centered on helping students who flounder. Instead, it suggests that more energy should be spent to allow the brilliant students at the top to flourish.

However, many educational experts express grave doubts about surveys like SMPY and the labels that they can create. Labeling children as essentially winners and losers can have tremendous risks on their development and the realization of their potential. It can also impact their desire to learn. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that these tests aren’t perfect and they do overlook brilliant kids who have a type of aptitude that can’t be captured with standardized tests.

Original Text

Physicists Think They’ve Spotted the Ghosts of Black Holes from Another Universe

By Rafi Letzter

“We are not living in the first universe. There were other universes, in other eons, before ours, a group of physicists has said. Like ours, these universes were full of black holes. And we can detect traces of those long-dead black holes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the radiation that is a remnant of our universe’s violent birth.

At least, that’s the somewhat eccentric view of the group of theorists, including the prominent Oxford University mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (also an important Stephen Hawking collaborator). Penrose and his acolytes argue for a modified version of the Big Bang.

In Penrose and similarly-inclined physicists’ history of space and time (which they call conformal cyclic cosmology, or CCC), universes bubble up, expand and die in sequence, with black holes from each leaving traces in the universes that follow. And in a new paper released Aug. 6 in the preprint journal arXiv, Penrose, along with State University of New York Maritime College mathematician Daniel An and University of Warsaw theoretical physicist Krzysztof Meissner, argued that those traces are visible in existing data from the CMB.

An explained how these traces form and survive from one eon to the next.

“If the universe goes on and on and the black holes gobble up everything, at a certain point, we’re only going to have black holes,” he told Live Science. According to Hawking’s most famous theory, black holes slowly lose some of their mass and energy over time through radiation of massless particles called gravitons and photons. If this Hawking radiation exists, ‘then what’s going to happen is that these black holes will gradually, gradually shrink.’

At a certain point, those black holes would disintegrate entirely, An said, leaving the universe a massless soup of photons and gravitons.

‘The thing about this period of time is that massless gravitons and photons don’t really experience time or space,’ he said.

Gravitons and photons, massless light speed travelers, don’t experience time and space the same way we — and all the other massive, slower-moving objects in the universe— do. Einstein’s theory of relativity dictates that objects with mass seem to move through time slower as they approach the speed of light, and distances become skewed from their perspective. Massless objects like photons and gravitons travel at the speed of light, so they don’t experience time or distance at all.

‘So, a universe filled with only gravitons or photons will not have any sense of what is time or what is space,’ An said.

At that point, some physicists (including Penrose) argue, the vast, empty, post-black-hole universe starts to resemble the ultra-compressed universe at the moment of the big bang, where there’s no time or distance between anything.

‘And then it starts all over again,’ An said.”

Summarized Text

A group of preeminent theorists including the famed Roger Penrose of Oxford University have a very specific ideas about how our universe, other universes and their qualities. They believe that other universes have preceded ours. These other universes bear similarities to ours in that they have black holes. There’s an area called the cosmic microwave background (CMB) that allows us to detect these traces of black holes. This area is made up of the radiation caused from the discordant development of the universe. Essentially this is a tweaked perspective of the commonly accepted Big Bang. This viewpoint asserts that multiple universes emerge, grow and die in a chronological order, all with their own black holes that leave traces one can locate in the CMB.

These theorists explain that given the current theories of black holes, if they continue to exist, they would just consume everything and that would just create a universe or multi-universe of black holes. The radiation that Hawking describes in his most referred to theory would then mean that the black holes would decrease in size over time, disappearing completely, and what would remain would just be universe made up of photons and gravitons that lack mass.  Photons and gravitons that lack mass wouldn’t react to things like time or space but would still move at the speed of light. This means that a universe mostly made up of these massless gravitons of photons would not have any inclination of time or space. Thus, this group of divergent thinking theorists led by Penrose argue that such a universe would be similar to the very-condensed universe when the big bang occurred, where no distance or time existed between anything. These theorists argue that this dynamic would ultimately be cyclical and repetitive.

Original Text

Now What? Social media has created a remarkable moment for women, but is this really the end of the harassment culture? By Joan C Williams and Suzanne Lebsock

“Farewell to the world where men can treat the workplace like a frat house or a pornography shoot. Since Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct in early October, similar allegations have been made about nearly 100 other powerful people. They all are names you probably recognize, in fields including media, technology, hospitality, politics, and entertainment. It’s a watershed moment for workplace equality and safety; 87% of Americans now favor zero tolerance of sexual harassment.

Not only is this better for women, but it’s better for most men. A workplace culture in which sexual harassment is rampant is often one that also shames men who refuse to participate. These men-who-don’t-fit, like the mistreated women, face choices about whether and how to intervene without endangering their careers. However, the landslide of men being accused does make many professional men feel anxious and make them wonder if previous immaturities or insensitivities toward women might ruin their careers.

Still, it’s unnerving for many men to see the numbers of those toppled by accusations grow ever higher. The recent summary dismissals of high-powered executives and celebrities have triggered worries that any man might be accused and ruined. Half of men (49%) say the recent furor has made them think again about their own behavior around women. Men wonder whether yesterday’s sophomoric idiocy is today’s career wrecker.

This is not a fight between men and women, however. One of the journalists to break the Weinstein story was Ronan Farrow, son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. Yes, that Woody Allen — the one who married his longtime girlfriend’s daughter and is alleged to have sexually abused another daughter. ‘Sexual assault was an issue that had touched my family,’ said Farrow, who noted that this experience was instrumental in driving his reporting.

To repeat: This is not a fight between men and women. It’s a fight over whether a small subgroup of predatory men should be allowed to interfere with people’s ability to show up and do what they signed up for: work.”

Summarized Text

The #metoo movement has created a watershed moment in our culture and society, starting with the accusations against mogul Harvey Weinstein. With his fall have come the accusations against hundreds of other powerful men for workplace abuses. This has helped to change the mentality of sex harassment with around 87% of Americans arguing for a zero-tolerance treatment of all sexual harassment in the workplace.

It’s important not to view this as a mere win for women, as these changes benefit everyone, men included. A workplace without sexual harassment creates a healthier environment for all. Men who find sexual harassment repugnant, won’t have to deal with the shame or browbeating they often receive when they refuse to participate.

It’s important to view the #metoo movement for what it is: its movement to stop predators from derailing the careers of women. It should not and never be viewed as a struggle or fight between men and women.

Conclusion

Creating a summary of an article should largely feel very empowering. This is because it gives you the ability to eliminate so much of the extraneous information and overly wordy sentence structure that so many writers use. You have the power to reduce a long text down to its essentials, making it much more accessible for others. Keep in mind that summarizing articles, particularly very academic ones, is a skill. Sometimes you’ll have to read the article a few times before you are able to even begin. The more practice you give yourself, the more confident you’ll feel when you engage in this endeavor. You should never feel alone when you do this. Our writers are always available to offer input or suggestions as you complete such tasks. They can even look at what you’ve written and make crucial adjustments.

References

Clynes, T. (2017, January 1). Nurturing Genius. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nurturing-genius/

Letzter, R. (21, August). Physicists Think They’ve Spotted the Ghosts of Black Holes from Another Universe. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/63392-black-holes-from-past-universes.html

Williams, J. C., & Lebsock, S. (2018, January 25). Now What? Retrieved from https://hbr.org/cover-story/2018/01/now-what

 

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