Using information

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Using information

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Using information

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Using information

Achieve@Uni

Summarising

A summary is a concise representation of the main ideas, facts or statements of an original text, written or spoken in your own words.

Writing a summary is similar to paraphrasing, except that longer text is compressed into a sentence or two depending on the length of the document. To achieve this:

  • only the main points are covered
  • examples are included
  • it is written in your own words, but still referenced.

Original text:

One of the fundamental methods of containing a pandemic (and thereby slowing its spread) is the imposition of restrictions on movement and gatherings (WHO, 2005; Office of Health Protection, 2006). At the local level, many pandemic plans call for school closure along with more general recommendations to avoid crowds (WHO, 2006). At the national and international level, restrictions will be placed on people’s capacities to move from one region to another. 
However, people are motivated to contravene movement restrictions by a strong desire to be with their families and community, to protect their economic wellbeing, or even due to their mistrust in the advice of the government. The motivation to flee en masse can be driven by anxiety and fear of contracting the disease.
 

[Adapted from Hagan, P., Maguire, B., & Bopping, D. (2008). Public behaviour during a pandemic.  The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 23(3), p. 35.]

Summary:

One of the ways in which a pandemic can be controlled is by restricting the movement of uninfected people locally, nationally and internationally. However, due to a number of factors, sometimes people do not abide by these restrictions (Hagan, Maguire & Bopping, 2008).

  • This is a very short summary. The first sentence summarises the first paragraph, and the second sentence summarises the second paragraph. Note that the reference at the end is to the authors of the original article.

Time management:

Time management is a critical skill for all students to develop. Weekly and semester timetables are an excellent way to plan a study program. Students can use them to manage their most important study, work and social commitments and to set themselves study goals. Blocks of time can then be set aside for study, reading, researching and writing. The most urgent tasks can be addressed, whilst work continues on preparing for lectures, tutorials and assessments. If time has been allocated for specific purposes, it is easier to avoid unexpected demands like phone calls, visitors and invitations. Assignments can be completed and submitted on time and to a satisfactory standard.

Summary:

Effective time management using weekly and semester timetables allows students to manage their commitments. The specific allocation of time helps to avoid interruptions so that assessments can be completed on time.

  • This summary has only two sentences. Keywords have been retained (time management, weekly and semester timetables); alternative words are used (unexpected demands or interruptions); and details (work, social commitments, calls, visitors and invitations) have been omitted. 

8 steps to a successful summary:

  1. Read the original text several times to understand the main and supporting points. Note the main ideas, keywords and phrases.
  2. Write notes in point form using keywords and phrases, retain technical or special words. Make sure you do not lose the meaning of the original text.
  3. Set up a two column system: keywords or phrases arranged logically in the left column.
  4. Turn the main ideas represented in the left column into sentences by writing directly from your notes and not re-reading the original text.
  5. Combine the sentences into a short paragraph by writing a topic sentence, using linking words and phrases between sentences.
  6. Refer back to the original text to ensure your summary reflects the main ideas.
  7. Check for accuracy, punctuation, spelling and logical flow: have the author's ideas and meaning remained? Is it written in your own style?
  8. Write the final version, adding the referencing details.
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