Avoiding Plagiarism: Summarising
Summarising is like paraphrasing, except it's shorter. Paraphrasing is rewriting the words of others, so it tends to be the same length as the original. A summary is a brief overview of the main ideas, facts or statements of an original text, written in your own words. As a summary is only concerned with the main points of the text, it's shorter than a paraphrase.
When to summarise:
- To outline the main points of someone else's work in your own words
- When the original source is too long to paraphrase but still has ideas that you want to mention
- To briefly give examples of several differing points of view on a topic.
How to summarise
- If you are reading a longer text (e.g. a chapter, a journal article), skim read, noting sub-headings, the first and last paragraphs and topic sentences.
- Read the text carefully using a dictionary if required
- Reread the text until you're sure you understand it.
- Write notes in bullet-point form to capture the key ideas and only the key ideas. Cut out any fluff.
- Close the original text and write your summary from your notes.
- Compare your summary with the original text to determine if your summary is an accurate reflection of the main points of the text.
- Revise your summary if required.
- Cite the original source.
Here are a couple of examples of summaries. Note how they are much shorter than paraphrases.
|Since its first discovery by non-indigenous people in the mid-nineteenth century, Yosemite Valley has held a special, even religious, hold on the American conscience because its beauty makes it an incomparable valley and one of the grandest of all special temples of Nature. While Yosemite holds a special grip on the western mind, perceptions about the Valley have evolved over time due to changing politics, migration patterns and environmental concerns as man has become more attuned to his relationship and impact on nature.
||Attitudes toward the much loved Yosemite Valley have changed, due in part, to the rise of environmentalism (Harrick, 1996)
|At a typical football match we are likely to see players committing deliberate fouls, often behind the referee's back. They might try to take a throw-in or a free kick from an incorrect but more advantageous positions in defiance of the clearly stated rules of the game. They sometimes challenge the rulings of the referee or linesmen in an offensive way which often deserves punishment or even sending off. No wonder this leads spectators to fight amongst themselves, damage stadiums, or take the law into their own hands by invading the pitch in the hope of affecting the outcome of the match.
||Unsporting behaviour by footballers may cause hooliganism among spectators.