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  1. #1
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    Default Advice needed for summarizing research articles without plagiarizing

    I sometimes have trouble summarizing research articles in my own words, especially when there's a lot of psychology jargon. For my current Psych class I have about seven research articles that I have to write a summary on in my own words, and I’m looking for some tips or strategies on how I can improve on this. There’s not much room for error because the assignments get submitted through a plagiarism detector and we’re only allotted a certain percentage of plagiarism.

    Any tips or strategies?

  2. #2
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Is there any structure they have given you for your summary (eg certain amount of point or paragraphs?). Are you allowed to quote other sources to make the same point? Are you just supposed to reiterate what the article is saying using your own words, or are there more specific guidelines than that? My recommendation is to find a Te dom to help you boil it all down. They are fantastic at doing this in a succinct way, while still covering the necessary information. Ni-Ti people are more likely to find it difficult to pare down the details or to reduce things to a skeleton, as it feels like important information is missing and before you know it, you are including a bunch of the original article.

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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    See if this works: set the original article aside. Don't look at it, or any notes you have made on it. Pretend you are describing it orally to a person sitting beside you. You are telling them: "I just read this article by so-and-so. It is about this [your explanation follows". Actually speak out loud as if to an imaginary person if it helps, or to a real friend if one is available to listen. Then capture this account in writing. Finally, follow up with any necessary corrections, e.g. if you forgot the proper term for something, find it and fill it in. This is the best and quickest way to summarize something in your own words.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Is there any structure they have given you for your summary (eg certain amount of point or paragraphs?).
    Only that it has to be around 300 words and that it has to include a little bit of each section: method, results, discussion etc.

    Are you allowed to quote other sources to make the same point?
    No quoting at all.

    Are you just supposed to reiterate what the article is saying using your own words,
    Yes

    My recommendation is to find a Te dom to help you boil it all down. They are fantastic at doing this in a succinct way, while still covering the necessary information.
    I'll try and track one down.

    Ni-Ti people are more likely to find it difficult to pare down the details
    Yeah for some reason I find this type of task to be very difficult for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    See if this works: set the original article aside. Don't look at it, or any notes you have made on it. Pretend you are describing it orally to a person sitting beside you. You are telling them: "I just read this article by so-and-so. It is about this [your explanation follows". Actually speak out loud as if to an imaginary person if it helps, or to a real friend if one is available to listen. Then capture this account in writing. Finally, follow up with any necessary corrections, e.g. if you forgot the proper term for something, find it and fill it in. This is the best and quickest way to summarize something in your own words.
    Interesting. I shall try this.

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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Coriolis has some excellent advice. I think it's worth a try. I've found if I have the text too close to me, I tend to get more and more mired down in structuring and details.

    It may be useful for you even to anticipate what kind of clarifying questions your imaginary listener might ask to fully understand the article. If nothing else, ask yourself the basic 5W style questions and that should help give you some kind of structure to work with.

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    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Why aren't you allowed to quote?

    Quoting is the basis of scientific research and scientific honesty.
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Why aren't you allowed to quote?

    Quoting is the basis of scientific research and scientific honesty.
    I wonder the same thing.

    It’s only this particular teacher that doesn’t allow it. She says she wants us to learn how to put things in our own words and that too many students are taking advantage of quoting by quoting too much.

    I think it's a stupid rule.

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    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juice View Post
    I wonder the same thing.

    It’s only this particular teacher that doesn’t allow it. She says she wants us to learn how to put things in our own words and that too many students are taking advantage of quoting by quoting too much.

    I think it's a stupid rule.
    My problem when writing papers was that sometimes the articles themselves word it the best and if I try to reword it myself then some of the intended meaning might be lost.

    So much quicker to just quote.
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  9. #9
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juice View Post
    I wonder the same thing.

    It’s only this particular teacher that doesn’t allow it. She says she wants us to learn how to put things in our own words and that too many students are taking advantage of quoting by quoting too much.

    I think it's a stupid rule.
    I have this rule.

    A lot of college students have zero critical thinking going on, either because they are unprepared or shouldn't be there, and that's a problem. College students need to be able to demonstrate that they can meaningfully engage with the ideas that are being talked about, and direct quoting gets in my way of seeing that engagement. So by taking someone's ideas and putting it into your own words (and still citing pages with paranthetical citations) you're demonstrating two things:

    1.) you are meaningfully engaging with the ideas
    2.) you are able to keep pace with the volume & speed of exchange and not get mired in details

    When I ask for this, I don't actually expect my students to carefully read every word of an article (and I tell them this directly). Instead, I expect them to be able to decode where the argument is being built within the article, and see where the important components are located. Much like I can take a bicycle and know where to set my eyes to see its key distinguishing features (If I'm interested in the cost of that bike, I would wonder, what kind of rear derailleur is it? you can usually price a bike by that one piece of knowledge; if I need to know if this is good for trail riding or commuting I might look at the frame geometry), I expect my students to learn to locate these key distinguishing features in a scholarly article.
    Every discipline has genre conventions and there are really only two parts to article analysis: 1.) learn where the moves are being made 2.) learn how terms function in the particular discourse community that you're trying to listen in on. Like, "theory" in science is not at all what theory means colloqually. Every discipline, sub-discipline, and research speciality argues about how to define terms. So I need to see you get a pulse on that conversation. How are those particular authors defining their terms?

    Don't get swamped in the details. Start looking for those two things in the paragraph prior to this one, and remember that the goals are probably the first two things I mentioned. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Disclaimer: your prof may have quite a different worldview than me. And maybe they care about different things. I'd ask them if you were confused.
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