How To Write An Excellent Research Summary: Tips And Examples


Do you have trouble writing a research summary? You can find pieces of advice and effective methods to create an excellent research summary. We provide examples of excellent research summaries. Keep on reading!

The Definition and Significance of a Research Summary

First of all, let’s dive into the definition of a research summary and its peculiarities. In a nutshell, a research summary is a professional piece that gives an overview of previously made scientific research. This is a popular assignment for college and university students in the US. Its role is to teach students to effectively work with scientific sources such as academic papers. It shows how a student can demonstrate new ideas and theories based on the evidence. As a rule, a research summary has the same structure as the article it deals with.

At first, making a research summary can seem like a piece of cake for students. Most of them think that summing up is the only thing they should do. However, it is a wrong opinion. Let’s have a closer look at the process of creating a summary.

Step-by-Step Creating a Summary

Are you nervous about your summary? No reason to worry. It is not the most difficult assignment in the world. Using the pieces of advice on this page, you will save much time and effort and create a high-quality piece of writing. Think of your summary as an intro to a bigger investigation.

These steps will help you avoid common mistakes and improve productivity.

Step 1. Make an Outline

This is a crucial but tricky stage. Pay attention to the following details:

  • Define your target readers. Your piece should correspond to the requirements of your target audience. Just ask yourself, “Who is going to read my summary?” Note the answer, and it will be a base for all the further actions.
  • Mind the time. Procrastinating is not going to help you. We realize that a summary requires more time than just a few hours. Completing it may take five or six hours. But you can save your time if you pay more attention to the paper and highlight the central points right away. Not involving the summary of the literature review can also save time, but it depends on whether it is necessary for the audience.
  • Don’t be wordy. As a rule, a research summary should be 10 times smaller than the original piece. It is mostly from two to four pages.
  • Include visual elements. A long text is too boring to read. A research summary will be more engaging if you add visual elements like diagrams or charts. But don’t simply copy these elements from the original document. It will spoil the whole impression.

Step 2. Look Through the Original Documents

Analyze the content from the point of view of an ordinary reader. Pay more attention to points that grab your interest immediately. Maybe an author did this deliberately. Focus on dividing a document into several sections and defining the central idea of each one. We recommend you read the document two times. The first time just catches the central points and divides them into sections. The second time is more precise and concentrates on details.

Step 3. Investigate the Topic

Adequate analyzing the content is possible if the writer has a deep knowledge of the topic. Some may say that it is an unnecessary and time-consuming step. But you will be surprised how much it improves the quality of your summary. Getting acquainted with an original document only is a mistake. Read similar pieces, and recent scientific sources concentrated on the same problem. It will help you recognize the key terms, questions, and the strength of given evidence better. In other words, you will evaluate the quality of the original document more objectively.

Step 4. Note

This is connected with the first stage. Represent each section you divided your document into within one short sentence. Don’t be prolix. It will help you get rid of all the unnecessary information. It is okay to change your viewpoint and adjust your notes. Then, you will apply these notes for making a draft.

Step 5. Make a Draft

Ensure you involve all the significant info and notes from every section. Your topic should be relevant and cover the most significant aspects of the initial document.

Step 6. Your Opinion

If required, involve your viewpoint on the issue. But before this, you have to get acquainted with the extra sources to form it. It is okay if your opinion is different from the one in the original document.

What does Research Summary Include?

The research summary involves all the constituents of the original document. You need to cover the content from all the parts like:


This is the first connection between the piece and the audience. The headline is a hook to draw the attention of the potential audience. The title makes people read the whole piece. Headlines in the form of questions engage the readers the most.


Two or three sentences will be more than enough to express the abstract. The abstract of your summary should be brief and informative.


This is a significant part that presents the context that helps readers get acquainted with the subject. Moreover, this part describes the significance of the subject, presents the current stage of scientific research, etc. Ensure to add your research question and hypothesis to the summary. As a rule, they are the same as in the original piece.


Methods you used for investigation are also significant. After you showed the aim of your research, describe the methodology of collecting data. This part should mention scientists who conducted research you rely on in your investigation.


In this part, outlay the detailed evidence you received from information analysis, conclusions, etc. It is the most extensive part of any research summary. Write it briefly and realize which details you can omit and which you don’t.


This is the part where the outcomes are discussed in light of current knowledge among scientists. This part involves interpreting the results, explaining them. You can also suggest ideas for further investigations, conclusions.


It is a brief overview of the summary that gives only essential information about your investigation.

Reference list

Involve the sources you utilize while crafting a summary. You can also mention the sources not mentioned in the original piece if your opinion is necessary.

Apart from these points, including the following:

  • A link and reference to the original document.
  • A few sentences about every researcher who took part in the investigation.
  • A list of keywords if you are going to upload your summary to a website.

Tips on Creating a Research Summary

Here are our pieces of advice that will help you save time and effort.

Ensure You Understand the Whole Picture

You need to have a complete picture concerning the story presented in the original document. Reread it a few times to define the main aims, evidence, and outcomes. The feeling of awareness will make you more confident in further steps. Make sure all the data you present is related to the context.

Write the Title Last

This rule applies to any piece of academic writing. You can pick the best headline only if you have a complete picture. You never know the outcomes of your investigations, or maybe you will decide to dive into another aspect. Editing your title is also acceptable. Don’t stick to the first draft.

Mind the Originality

Borrowing the opinions from an original document can be very tempting, especially if you can’t find other good sources on a certain topic. But simply copying others’ ideas is not a good way. To make your summary outstanding and worth someone else’s attention, you should use your own words. Plagiarized work can result in a significantly lower grade.

The other extreme is being too personal. Your opinion is not always necessary. Most summaries include only a couple of sentences that represent your perception of the problem.

So, find the middle ground and use your creativity.

Stick to the Word Count

As a rule, the word limit for your summary is provided in the requirements. Be careful and plan how many words you will write for each part beforehand. Such a plan won’t let you be wordy and make your summary look professional.


Mistakes can spoil an impression on any work. Use special tools to check your writing for all kinds of mistakes. Also, make sure your piece corresponds to all the formatting requirements.

Ask for Someone Else’s Opinion

It is even better when a person you ask is not familiar with the topic. Ask whether everything is clear in your piece and what points need more explanation. Another way is to put the writing aside for a few days and then reread it with fresh eyes. It is especially necessary if you have been working on your summary for a long time. A fresh pair of eyes can reveal many mistakes and inconsistencies.

Research Summary Example

We provide an example of a research summary for imaginary research.

Title: The most effective ways of reducing air pollution

Intro: This section would list the most popular ways of reducing air pollution and the significance of these activities.

Hypothesis: Air pollution would be reduced up to 25% of all the methods below that were actively utilized.

Results: An analysis of scientific and statistical data from numerous sources demonstrated that the most efficient ways of decreasing air pollution are the use of electric cars and increasing control over industrial companies.

Discussion and Conclusion: An example of Scandinavian countries shows that active use of electric cars and more attention to the industrial sphere can significantly decrease the air pollution levels. If the tendency continues to grow, the level of air pollution in these countries will decrease to 26%. This proves governments should take responsibility for dealing with air pollution. An organized approach will bring the most advantages to the environment.

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What is the aim of a research summary?

A summary demonstrates your expertise and understanding of the main ideas. It also shows your ability to sum up, and omit insignificant elements. It also prepares the readers and gives them insight into the content of a more extensive investigation. You should write your summary in such a way so that the audience could understand the whole idea of bigger research without reading it all.

What things should I include in my research summary?

A research summary is a condensed version of a more extended scientific investigation. It should include the main components and points of the original piece. We explained the structure with more details above.

What is the optimal length for a research summary?

It depends on the length of the original piece of writing. Usually, a research summary is from two to four pages long. When we talk about the components, the longest one is the result part and methodology. The source text should be as condensed as possible.

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