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Avoiding Plagiarism: Summarizing


What is Summarizing?

  • Summarizing is condensing a large amount of information from a source/author(s) using YOUR OWN WORDS.

  • You MUST cite the original source, both in-text and in your references/works cited.

When to Summarize

  • Summarize when you need to extract the main idea(s) of a source.

  • Summarize when you need to provide background or an overview of a topic.

  • Summarizing is often used in annotated bibliographies, when you must provide a paragraph or two to explain the main findings/arguments of a source/author(s).

  • Summarizing is also often used for literature reviews, when you must explain the main findings of the seminal works in a narrow field.

How to Summarize

  1. Read the original material.
  2. Set the material aside and consider what you read.
  3. Briefly describe the main point(s) IN YOUR OWN WORDS.

Example: Summarizing

From page 52 of the original source: Summary
Building on findings from my US-based research on vaccine selectivity and on cannabis treatment for paediatric epilepsy, referenced below, I argue that truly counterfactual details can and should be challenged in proportion to the degree to which their promulgation could underwrite widespread harm, subverting the greater good. Although all parties involved should have a say in defining harm, social justice and basic human rights must take precedence (see American Anthropological Association Committee for Human Rights, 1999). This Utilitarian-influenced line of thinking, which prioritises the greater good (e.g., public health) over individual proclivities, holds that if harm potential is low, regardless of empirically verifiable or ‘substantive’ facts (about which, see Harambam, this issue), there is no need to impose one’s own culturally conditioned version of ‘the truth.’ Rather, we should ask what adherents of low-harm counterfacts can teach us about being human. If a counterfact’s harm potential is high, however, we must try, carefully and with an eye to social justice, to reduce that element’s salience for believers.

Sobo, E. J. (2021). Conspiracy theories in political-economic context: Lessons from parents with vaccine and other pharmaceutical concerns. Journal for Cultural Research, 25(1), 51–68.

Sobo (2021) maintains that mostly innocuous misinformation need not be combated, as it does not present a threat to the overall well-being of society. However, potentially dangerous misinformation that could be harmful to society must be combated (p. 52).

An APA citation was included on the Reference List.

In the above example, we extracted the main points of the original passage (omitting some details) and put the summary in our own words, demonstrating understanding.

We included proper in-text and Reference List citations.