Integrating Sources

Overview: Summarizing Source Material

Summarizing a single source or a collection of related sources can provide your reader with background or supporting information that helps them better understand your chosen topic. It is also a useful method to point out material that either supports or contradicts your argument while not distracting your reader with irrelevant details.

As with quoting and paraphrasing, you must document the sources you summarize. Unlike a paraphrase, which rewords a specific passage and often remains the same length as the original, a summary reduces the material into a more concise statement. To be effective you must choose your words carefully, being accurate, objective, focused and concise.

Once you fully understand the intended meaning conveyed by the source material, write your summary. Pay close attention to the precise meaning of the words you choose and be especially careful not to introduce new ideas.

Developing critical reading skills will help you examine source materials with an eye toward what to include in a summary.

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