Integrity Matters
Citing and Documenting
Surviving the Semester

Tips on Summarizing

In academic writing, there are a few things to keep in mind when summarizing outside sources:
  • Use your own words
  • Include the key relevant elements of the original and keep it brief - you're just going for the original's essence
  • Do not include your interpretation/analysis within the summary - make a clear distinction between your thoughts and someone else's
  • Vary how you introduce or attribute your sources, like "according to..." or "so-and-so concludes that..." so your readers don't get bored
  • Always include a citation
Here's an example of a good summary:


Our research has several implications. First, we have illustrated that young adults' perceptions of presidential candidates, especially those of lesser known candidates, are diminished as a result of exposure to The Daily Show. This latter finding is not unexpected, because attitudes toward President Bush were fairly solidified and were less likely to be affected by humor. But it does have significance for 2008, when there will be no incumbent in the race and a high probability that the sitting vice president will not run. Therefore, the field of presidential candidates is likely to be constituted of individuals who are largely unknown to the public. If young Americans learn about these candidates via Jon Stewart, it is possible that unfavorable perceptions of both parties' nominees could form. This would have the effect of lowering trust in national leaders. Moreover, it may increase the importance of having high name recognition in the primary season, because lesser-known candidates would enjoy less support. Ultimately, negative perceptions of candidates could have participation implications by keeping more youth from the polls.
Summary in Paper (Chicago Note)

Baumgartner and Morris noted that the presidential hopefuls in the 2008 election, who would not be incumbents, might be less familiar to the voting public. They feared that young Americans learning about these candidates through the satiric lens of The Daily Show would inevitably form cynical, jaded perceptions of both the Democratic and Republican nominees. With such a cynical view of politics, they might not bother to vote at all.1

This note would be in the footnotes at the bottom of the page or in the endnotes at the end of the paper:

1. Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris, "The Daily Show Effect: Candidate Evaluations, Efficacy, and American Youth," American Politics Research 34, no. 3 (2006): 362.

And this would be the entry in the bibliography:

Baumgartner, Jody and Jonathan S. Morris. "The Daily Show Effect: Candidate Evaluations, Efficacy, and American Youth." American Politics Research 34, no. 3 (2006): 341-367.