How To Write A Research Summary
Research Writing Research

How To Write A Research Summary

Deeptanshu D
Deeptanshu D

Everything You Need To Know

It’s a common perception that writing a research summary is pretty quick and an easy task.  After all, how hard can writing 300-400 words be? However, the reality behind a research summary lies in stark contrast to this common crowd perception. Now, whether you are writing a research summary as a part of your dissertation, essay or you are trying to create a compelling draft for your paper, churning out a complex research paper to transform it into an informative self-explanatory snapshot can be one of the most daunting stages of a research process. That’s why writing a research summary often comes at the end of the task list.

A well-curated research summary represents you and your skills as knowledgeable about the information written in the research paper. Therefore, it is prudent to remain objective and ignore any analysis or criticism while creating a research summary.  To generate a concise and accurate description of a research paper that proves your understanding of the research topic and its conclusions, you must stay attentive to the goals and purpose of a research summary.

Regardless of the various scenarios and goals associated with a research summary, it can be demanding and exhausting. However, obtaining an appropriate level of knowledge before embarking on a pile of research papers can make the entire process a lot easier. Here are a few ways to learn completely about a research summary and then start writing a summary for your task (research paper).

What is a Research Summary?

A research summary is an academic piece of writing that describes the findings of a research paper to a targeted audience in a brief yet concise manner. While writing a quality research summary, you must discover and identify the significant points in the research and condense it in a more straightforward form for its reader. To prepare a research summary, you need to gather explicit knowledge of the topic that will allow easy comprehension of the contents of the paper for you as well as its audience. A research summary is like a doorway that provides access to the structure of a research paper's sections.

Fundamentals of a Research Summary

Before you start creating the research summary, you must delve deeper to get insights into its content, style, and organization. There are three fundamental areas of a research summary that you must focus on while preparing a good research summary.

  1. While deciding over the contents of your research summary, you must include a section on its importance as a whole, the techniques, and the tools that were used to formulate the conclusion. Additionally, you should provide a brief yet thorough explanation of how the findings of the research paper have real world applications benefiting the people.
  2. To keep the summary as a well-organized academic writing piece, try to provide the various sections of the research paper in separate paragraphs. Besides, how the idea of particular factual research came up first must be explained in a separate paragraph.
  3. As a general practice worldwide, research summaries are restricted to 300-400 words. However, if you have chosen a lengthy research paper, try not to exceed the word limit of 10% of the entire research paper.

Structure of a Research Summary

The research summary is nothing but a concise form of the entire research paper. Therefore, the format or the structure of a research summary stays the same as the research paper. Regardless of whether section titles are present or not, you must include contents from all the sections and a brief discussion over them.  The structural elements that a research summary must consist of:

  1. Title: It represents the topic of the research. Try to phrase it so that it includes the key findings or conclusion of the task.
  2. Abstract: This represents a concise yet thorough description of the study conducted. It would help if you refrain from copy-pasting the exact statements from the research paper itself. Unlike a research paper’s abstract, the word limit is expected to be very short in the abstract of a research summary.
  3. Introduction: This is the most crucial section of a research summary as it helps readers get familiarized with the topic. You should include the definitions, the current state of the investigation, its context, and importance in the real world, etc., in this part. Additionally, you should present the problem statement, investigative measures, and any hypothesis (if made) in this section.
  4. Methodology: This section provides details about the methodology and the methods adopted to conduct the study. You should write a brief description of the surveys, sampling, type of experiments, statistical analysis, and the rationality behind choosing those particular methods.
  5. Results: Create a list of evidence obtained from the various experiments with a primary analysis, conclusions, and interpretations made upon that. In the paper research paper (for which you are creating the summary), you will find the results section as the most detailed and lengthy part. Therefore, you must pick up the key elements and wisely decide which elements are worth including and which are worth skipping.
  6. Discussion: This is where you present the interpretation of results in the context of their application. This part usually covers results, inferences, theoretical models explaining the obtained values, key strengths, and limitations. All of these are vital elements that you must include while preparing a research summary.
  7. Conclusion: In the parent or the original research paper, you may find this section merged with the discussions. However, depending upon the instructions, you may have to prepare this as a separate section in your research summary. Usually, in this section, a revisit is made to the hypothesis assumed before the study. It also provides the details about the validation or denial about the arguments made in the research paper, based upon how convincing the results were obtained.

The structure of a research summary closely resembles the anatomy of a scholarly article. Additionally, you should keep your research and references  limited to authentic and  scholarly sources only.

Tips for Writing a Research Summary

Regardless of the different purposes a research summary serves, the core concept of undertaking a research summary is to present your audience with a simple and clear understanding of the parent research paper. Follow the steps outlined below to write a research summary.

1. Read the parent paper thoroughly

You should go through the research paper thoroughly multiple times to ensure that you’ve understood the concept presented in it completely. You can follow a 3-stage reading process to gain an adequate understanding:

a. Scan: Just read it once to get an understanding of its basic concept and methodologies.

b. Read the article attentively by going through each section, highlighting the key elements, and subsequently listing the topics that you will include in your research summary.

c. Skim the article a few more times to decipher the interpretation of various experimental results, statistical analysis, and application in different contexts.

Below you will find a few tips through which you can cross this phase easily.

You start reading through the abstract. In the abstract, you will get to understand the author’s viewpoint about the research topic and the expectations that were assumed from the study.

Sincerely go through different headings and subheadings as it will allow you to understand the underlying concept of each section. You can try reading the introduction and conclusion simultaneously to understand the motive of the task and how obtained results stay fit to the expected outcome.

2. Identifying the key elements in different sections

While going through different sections of an article, you can try finding answers to simple “What,” “How,” and “Why.” Follow through the list to understand what answers you should try looking for in each section of a research paper:

i) Introduction:

  • What is the research question, and how is the author trying to address it?
  • Is the author making any hypothesis in the introductory part?

ii) Methods:

  • What type of methods were adopted?
  • What was the sample size for data collection, and how was it analyzed?

iii) Results:

  • What were the most vital findings of the conducted experiments?
  • Do the results support the hypothesis that was made?

iv) Discussion/Conclusion

  • What is the final solution to the problem statement of the research paper?
  • What is the author’s explanation for the obtained results?
  • What is the inference drawn from the observations?
  • What recommendations does the author make?
  • What are the various limitations of the conducted study?

3. Start writing the research summary

Now that you’ve listed the key points that the paper tries to demonstrate, you can start writing the summary following the standard structure of a research summary.

In any case, never copy-paste the statements from the parent research paper. Instead, try writing down each section in your own words. This will not only help in keeping zero plagiarism but will also show your complete understanding of the subject.

It is important that you paraphrase the author’s ideas and concepts behind each section. The best way to accomplish this is by listing it separately and later including it in the research summary as per its fit in different sections.

4. Include visuals

One of the best ways to summarize and consolidate a research paper is to provide visuals like graphs, charts, pie diagrams, etc.. Using visuals, you can easily explain the facts, the past trends, and the probabilistic figures around a concept.

5. No plagiarism at all

It will be very tempting to pick up a few statements or the entire paragraphs depending upon the clarity of those sections. However, in any case, you must not indulge in any copy-pasting. Even paraphrasing should be done with utmost care and attention. The best way to accomplish this is by creating each section from scratch using the notes you will be preparing while reading the parent article. Your own words weaved through your understanding is the only way to keep your paper safe without any plagiarism.

6. Religiously follow the word count limit

You need to have strict control while writing different sections of a research summary. In many cases, it has been observed that the research summary and the parent research paper became the same length. If that happens, it can lead to discrediting of your efforts and research summary itself. Whatever the standard word limit has been imposed, you must observe that carefully.

7. Proofread your research summary multiple times

The process of writing the research summary can be exhausting and tiring. However, you shouldn’t allow this to become a reason to skip checking your academic writing several times for mistakes like misspellings, grammar, wordiness, and formatting issues. Your research summary can stand out from the others, provided it is drafted perfectly on both technicality and comprehension parameters.

8. Watch while you write

Keep a keen observation of your writing style. You should use the words very precisely, and in any situation, it should not represent your personal opinions on the topic. You should write the entire research summary in utmost impersonal, precise, factually correct, and evidence-based writing.

9. Ask a friend/colleague to help

Once you are done with the final copy of your research summary, you must ask a friend or colleague to read it. You must test whether your friend or colleague could grasp everything without referring to the parent paper. This will help you in ensuring the clarity of the article.

Conclusion:

Once you become familiar with the research paper summary concept and understand how to apply the tips discussed above in your current task, summarizing a research summary won’t be that challenging. While reading the different aspects of your academic career, you will face different scenarios where you may have to create many research summaries. In such cases, you just need to look for answers for simple questions like “Why this study is necessary,” “What were the methods,” “Who were the participants,” “What conclusions were drawn from the research,” and “How it is relevant to the wider world.” Once you find out the answers to these questions, you can easily create a good research summary following the standard structure and a precise writing style.