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Using Sources

Summarizing

When you summarize, you are condensing an idea (often a longer passage of text) and putting it into your own words. Summaries are most useful when you want to tell the reader the gist of the author’s idea or give a broad overview of the author’s concepts. You summarize sources in your paper in order to analyze or critique the idea presented by the original author.


Tips on summarizing:

  • A summary should always be considerably shorter than the original.

  • A summary should contain the ideas of the original text and focus on the main points instead of the details, facts, and examples.

  • Read the original passage or text several times.

  • Jot down or make notes (in your own words) on the main points from the text that stick out to you.

  • Without looking at the original text, try to say out loud what you think is the main point of the passage.

  • Write down what you said in full sentences and check it against the original text to ensure accuracy.

  • Be sure to provide a citation at the end of the summary.

Example:

Original text

Such intuition is even making its way, albeit slowly, into scholarly circles, where recognition is mounting that ever-increasing pressures on ecosystems, life-supporting environmental services, and critical natural cycles are driven not only by the sheer number of resources users and the inefficiencies of their resource use, but also by the patterns of resource use themselves. In global environmental policymaking arenas, it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the fact that the overdeveloped North must restrain its consumption if it expects the underdeveloped South to embrace a more sustainable trajectory.

 

Summary of source

Over consumption may be a more significant cause of environmental problems than is increasing population.

(Princen et al., 2002, p. 4)