5 Steps to Summarizing a Research Article

Co-authored: Noemi Guiot

Writing a summary is a crucial skill to have if you are a knowledge worker: from students to working professionals. Research articles require time and effort to understand and summarize.

Here are 5 steps to summarizing a research article to help you get started:


Determine the Focus of the Summary

Firstly, it is important to establish the goal of the summary:
- Stand alone summary - Notes and a reference to look back on
the summary can be longer and include greater detail
Summary for reference - Including the summary in a paper
Include only the information that is relevant to the paper in a concise fashion

Scan the article (Use Upword's AI tools!)

Research articles are written in APA format, making the information faster and easier to find.
What information belongs to what section?

  • Introduction - research question, hypothesis
  • Method - how the hypothesis was tested
  • Results - findings, tables, and figures
  • Discussion - Interpretation of the findings

Read the article (Use Upword’s capturing tools)

Now, take your time and read the article for comprehension and detail. Be sure to annotate and stay active for best learning productivity. While reading, highlight key words and ideas. This will serve as the skeleton of your summary. Upword is designed to help you do exactly that.


Write the summary (Use Upword’s editing tools!)

Ideally, the summary will maintain the flow of the original article. You can do this by simply following the annotations you made while reading. While writing the first draft of the summary, focus on content rather than length.

When writing it is important to avoid plagiarism. an easy way to avoid plagiarism is to take notes in your own words. If you are only making small changes in the wording, it is likely that you do not fully understand the article and should go back and re-read to enhance your understanding.

Edit the Summary

When editing the summary, focus on being concise and accurate. It is likely that you can eliminate wordiness, superfluous information, and inaccurate language from your first draft to give you a refined and proper summary. Once you think you have finished, you should re-read, edit, and repeat until you are happy with the summary you have created.


Another helpful tip is to tie in external information such as Youtube videos, audio tracks, and other relevant links to enrich your summary. Use Upword’s attachments notes for that.

Follow these 5 tips, and your summary is ready to go! Use Upword's features to simplify the process and provide you with quality summaries and study strategies.