How to Write an Article Summary

Writing an article summary might sound like a very straightforward and simple process: read the article, and then tell what the article is about. Well, it's actually a little more involved than that. You will not only need to demonstrate comprehension of often very specialized material, but to demonstrate your critical thinking skills by giving an evaluation. You should be able to explain why the article was successful or not, and give some good reasons why. It doesn't need to be a "thumbs" up or "thumbs down" approach. You can spell out the relative strengths and weaknesses of the article, but you need to have a thesis (an arguable main point) about the article.

Here are the steps to follow in order to create an excellent article summary:

  1. Read the article thoroughly. This includes more than one reading, at the very least. Underline key passages and take notes on your reactions. Make sure you understand the logic of the argument, step by step. It helps to make an outline of the article. Identify the thesis. Write down the main idea presented in each paragraph. Write down the possible objections to the argument. Does the author address any of these? If so, how well are the objections handled? Remember that you're likely to be reading an author with more knowledge of the field than you, so you might need to do some research beyond the article itself. If you come across any references or words you don't understand, look them up. 
  2. Come up with a thesis which summarizes your opinion of the article. By the time you finish reading the article the first time, you probably already have some feeling about whether you were persuaded by it. From there it is only a matter of refining that opinion, and providing good evidence for it. You might want to make a "pro and con" list about the article.
  3. Write an outline for your article summary. The thesis comes first, followed by the main points which support the thesis. Underneath these list textual evidence for your main points.
  4. Draft your paper. The introduction gives the context of the article and its importance, a brief summary, and then states the thesis. The body should illustrate your main points, one paragraph each. Finish with a conclusion which summarizes your argument, and then restates the thesis.

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