Summarising a research paper is a valuable skill that can help you distil complex information into concise and digestible form. Whether you're a student, academic, or researcher, knowing how to summarise effectively is essential for understanding, synthesising, and communicating the key findings of a study. In this blog article, we have put together a step-by-step guide to help you summarise a research paper.

First Things First: Determine your Focus

What do you need this summary for? Before starting, identify the main objectives, methods, results, and conclusions of the research paper. Perhaps your summary will serve as a supporting document for your current research findings and you want to include it in the literature review of your dissertation.

Conversely, your summary may serve as a critical review of the paper. In this case, you'll need to use a critical lens while reading the paper and conduct your own research to assess the accuracy and validity of the data presented.

By clarifying your objectives and aligning your summary with the intended purpose, you can ensure that your summary is targeted, coherent, and informative, ultimately enhancing its value and impact within the academic community.

Before Summarising

Before diving into the summarising process, it's important to lay the groundwork for a successful summary. Here are some key steps to consider:

Scan the article: Quickly skim through the paper to get an overview of its structure, headings, and key points. Pay attention to the abstract, introduction, discussion, and conclusion sections for insights into the study's main findings.

Read the article interactively: Read the paper actively, engaging with the content by highlighting key passages, taking notes, and jotting down questions or comments. This interactive approach will help you understand the material more deeply and identify important information for your summary.

Be mindful of plagiarism: While summarising, ensure that you paraphrase and synthesise the information in your own words. Avoid directly copying sentences or phrases from the original text to prevent plagiarism. Properly cite any sources or ideas that you reference in your summary.

Writing the Summary

Once you've familiarised yourself with the research paper, it's time to craft your summary. Follow these steps to create a clear and concise synthesis:

Write a first draft: Begin by summarising the main objectives, methods, results, and conclusions of the study in your own words. Focus on capturing the essence of the research paper while omitting unnecessary details.

Expand: Expand on your initial draft by providing more context, explanation, and interpretation of the key points. Include relevant quotes, statistics, or examples from the paper to support your summary and provide evidence for the main findings.

Edit for completeness: Review your summary to ensure that it covers all essential aspects of the research paper. Check that you've accurately captured the main ideas, findings, and implications of the study without omitting important details.

Edit for style: Finally, polish your summary for clarity, coherence, and style. Use clear and concise language, avoid jargon or technical terms where possible, and ensure that your summary flows smoothly from one point to the next.


Summarising a research paper is a valuable skill that requires careful attention to detail, critical thinking, and effective communication. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create summaries that are accurate, informative, and engaging.

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