Tips for Summarizing Academic Articles


  • Select one of your review articles.
  • Do a quick survey read (read abstract, main headings, subheadings and some topic sentences). 
  • Copy paste the QUESTION PROMPTS (1-15) below onto a Word document and assign a descriptive file name to it; something that clearly signals what the document is - NOT “article1.doc”.    
  • Derive detailed responses to QUESTION PROMPTS 1-15 while doing a more careful reading of the selected article.
  • Write these detailed responses/summary points in your own words. If you must borrow direct wording from the article, be sure to place this in quotation marks and note page location. 
  • Note page location after each summary point.
  • Save and secure.    


  1. What was the goal in writing this article?
  2. What is well known or understood thus far with respect to this area of research?
  3. What is not so well known or understood with respect to this area of research?
  4. What is the focus of the author’s attention in terms of concepts/variables and their relationships or status?
  5. What question(s) does the author want to answer?
  6. What are some of the issues or problems with conducting this type of inquiry that were mentioned in the article?
  7. What was discovered?  Refer to both major and minor findings.
  8. How did the author go about doing this research (i.e. what techniques of data gathering or data were used)?
  9. What appears to be the target population? In other words, what is the author making to inferences to in terms of a target population (Canadian hospitals? Children in non-state funded daycares in New York? Graduating police officers in Ontario?)?
  10. What appears to be the timeframe covered in the study? 
  11. What new ideas does this work present?
  12. What practical implications for better understanding the problem/issue does this work have?
  13. What advice is given? To whom does it seem to be directed?
  14. What limitations does the research have?
  15. What are the suggestions for further research?