Academic Summary: Listening to the Conversation

Overview:  Students write summaries in college classes for a variety of purposes, including to demonstrate their understanding of class texts for an instructor or to introduce an argument to readers of a paper or essay. We will practice writing summaries for such academic purposes in this assignment. 

Purpose The purpose of this summary is to demonstrate to your instructor that you have closely read a particular article that contributes effectively to the conversation on climate change. You will need to report, objectively and concisely, the writer's argument (thesis and key points).

Audience:  Your CO150 instructor. Your reader is, therefore, very familiar with the article and will expect that you have read it closely. He will expect that your summary accurately and objectively represents the author's ideas, whether paraphrased or quoted, and that you make clear references to the article when you do so.

Subject:  Choose one of the following argumentsto summarize:

  1. "Why Bother" by Michael Pollan
  2. "Apocalypse Now" by Edward Wilson
  3. "How Consumers, Businesses and Government Can Fight Climate Change" by Neville Hobson

Strategies:  To achieve your purpose with your audience, use the following strategies.


Format: Please include your name, the class and section number, and the date at the top of your summary. Use 12-point Times New Roman font only. Double-space and be sure to staple if you use more than one page.
Length: Roughly one double-spaced page.

Worth: 50 points.

Due: ___, September ___, at the beginning of class.

Academic Summary Grading Rubric

Excellent (5)

Satisfactory (4)

Unsatisfactory (3)


Purpose/Audience: The summary convinces the reader that you have read the article closely and understand its argument because the summary accurately represents the author's central claim and key supporting points. The summary does not merely list the main ideas but shows how the reasons support the claim. The summary avoids specific details & examples, rather focuses on the argument.

The summary convinces your reader that you have read and understood the points of the article.  It could, perhaps, improve in showing the connection between the main claim and how it is supported.  The summary may have some extra, unneeded details from the article.  It is accurate.

Your reader may question whether you have read the article closely because its argument is not clearly presented.  There may be inaccuracies or subjective statements (opinions, judgments).  The summary may provide a list of points rather than any sense of a claim supported by reasons and evidence.


Objectivity: The summary remains focused on reporting the argument objectively. The summary avoids anything subjective (such as personal reactions or judgments).

You may use some language that reveals your opinions, but, in general, the summary is objective.

You have not objectively represented what the author wrote.  Your opinions and judgments are included in the summary.


Attribution: The summary cites the author, title, date and publication of the article. The summary writer uses author tags so that it remains clear that he/she is reporting the author's ideas and words.

Generally, your reader can tell that you are referring to the author's words.  More frequent or varied author tags would improve your summary.

It is not clear when you are referring to the article and when you are presenting your own ideas. 


Quotes & Paraphrases: The summary contains both paraphrases and quotes. The paraphrased and quoted passages are chosen appropriately and integrated into the summary.

The summary needs a better balance of paraphrasing and quoting or to choose and integrate quotes more effectively. 

The summary is mostly quotes strung together, or there is little material used from the article, or the material used is poorly chosen and integrated.


Conventions & Style: The writer maintains an objective tone throughout the summary. The summary is carefully proofread and edited for accuracy and clarity.

While the writer maintains an objective tone throughout the summary, the summary would benefit from careful proofreading and editing for accuracy and clarity.

The tone is inappropriate for this context and/or the document is unclear and/or inaccurate.  Attention to conventions is needed to avoid alienating or frustrating readers.


Total = _____/50