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How to Write a Research Summary: Step-by-Step Guide

Many students nurture a misperception that writing academic papers is quick and straightforward. That can be valid until they get an assignment to explore a topic and write a summary. Only then do they realize the thorough approach this paper requires and the time it takes to compile.

Research summaries reveal facts about a study. These projects are frequent in colleges and various organizations. Hence, it comes naturally that you must polish your summarizing skills to achieve academic success.

However, there is always a first time, and beginners might find the writing requirements confusing. Moreover, the writer must understand the topic and present insights clearly and concisely. Here is everything you should know about writing a research summary.

What Is a Research Summary?

As the name suggests, a summary of a research paper synthesizes your full-length work into an abbreviated, informative piece. It can be part of your dissertation or a study published in an academic journal. And though the task is challenging, it is essential for each student’s portfolio.

Whether you study medicine, STEM, or business, the chances that you write your research paper are high. This way, professors test your ability to summarize critical information and present it in the most readable form. Moreover, the summary is a doorway that provides a brief overview of all the insights covered in the article.

Typically, its length should be about 10% of the original document. Hence, if your research paper stretches across ten pages, ensure your summary is at least one page (about 400 words) long. That’s why the synopsis must be as compact as possible to allow the audience to grasp the main idea of your work.

Difference Between Abstract and Research Summary Writing

Many students cannot differentiate between a paper abstract and a summary. And while these share some features, they are far from identical. Hence, starting a research paper requires you to be mindful of the nuances. On the one hand, both elements are narrow in scope. Their purpose is to offer a literature review of the central points of the research paper.

However, confusion arises when one has to establish their purpose and position within the document. More specifically, the abstract comes at the beginning of the paper, whereas the summary comes at the end.

Moreover, abstracts focus on the essence of your paper and describe what it is about briefly. They also set the context and reveal the thesis statement of the main hypotheses. Conversely, the summary captures the vital points by focusing on your methods and findings.

Finally, abstracts must be ready and submitted before the full-length version of the research paper. As for the summary, students usually present it when they finish writing to give an overall impression with conclusions and recommendations about the topic.

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Everything You Should Know about the Research Methodology

The purpose of revealing the methodology is to explain how you intend to conduct the research. In short, it is a logical, systematic plan that attempts to resolve a problem. However, many students pay for research papers because they lack substantial knowledge about investigation methods and instruments.

Moreover, the methodology will ensure your approach is reliable and objective. It must also provide valid results that address the overall goals. Finally, this segment will present the information you’re planning to gather and the manner of data collection.

The most common methodologies include qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Researchers gather qualitative data through written texts, spoken words, and body language. The second approach focuses on numerical data that prove or confirm your arguments.

The predominant ways to collect information include interviews in various formats and surveys that can be in-person or online and contain open, essay-style, or closed multiple-choice questions. In addition, your methodology might involve focus groups who give their opinions and perceptions on the topic.

Similarly, direct observation occurs when you monitor the spontaneous behavior of the study participants. Last, researchers can collect data through published reports and official documents.

How to Write Your Summary Structure Perfectly?

The format you need to follow resembles the outline of the original paper, but it is a more concise version. To this end, you must cover and reflect on all sections found in the full-length work. Here are the structural elements you mustn’t neglect if you wonder how to write a research paper summary:


The title reveals the precise topic of your work in a brief form. This section is identical to that of the original paper. Moreover, the title can signpost the most significant findings.


This element delivers a compact description of the study and its focal points. It should be no longer than 100 words, unlike full-length essays, whose abstracts can be up to 500 words long.


The introductory part of your research article explains the context of your work. It aims to help your audience understand the subject by defining key concepts or depicting the current condition of the matter under investigation.

The introduction can also highlight the importance of the researched matter. You must also insert your claims or hypotheses and then elaborate on them in more detail in the complete paper.


As discussed before, the methodology section lists the experimental methods used. These could include surveys, questionnaires, tests, databases, experiments, sampling, organizational records, or statistical analysis. Yet, don’t lose yourself in the details, and only mention how you researched the issue and what instruments you used.


This segment is perhaps the most significant within the entire process. It must reveal all the evidence obtained during your analyses and experiments. Hence, ensure you include any data you discovered while observing your target and the underlying interpretations.


In this phase, you must discuss the outcome within the relevant context and decide how it responds to the current trends. Once you interpret the data and explain it through theoretical models, you must pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the subject matter. You can also suggest future exploration in the field.


The summary conclusion can merge with the Discussion section. However, if your mentor requires it to be a separate paragraph, use it to validate or deny your hypotheses based on the obtained evidence and analysis.


This part encompasses the scientific literature you referred to while drafting your work. Therefore, consider citing a research paper you consulted while composing your manuscript and give proper credit to the authors. If you have a critical opinion, substantiating it with works from well-established scientists is the best step.

How to Write a Research Paper Summary: Effective Tips

Engaging summary writing is far from straightforward to complete. Fortunately, there are hacks to help you conceptualize the ideal summary of research paper, such as:

  1. Read your project from scratch to finish. Highlight the essential points and insights worth summarizing.
  2. Touch upon the experimental results and possible applications in various fields in the future.
  3. The first draft is decisive. So, if you have problems with it, consider hiring an online essay writing service to help you start on the right foot.
  4. Stick to the word limit imposed by your professor because this demonstrates your organizational skills.
  5. Check the plagiarism level of your paper. If you have several matches, rephrase your wording. Professors usually have zero tolerance for copied content in students’ works.
  6. Proofread your final draft. Ensure it is free of typos, grammar errors, and awkward structures that impede reading. The flow of thought is mandatory, as well as proper formatting.
  7. Insert visuals such as graphs and charts to present the findings quickly and effectively. Besides saving you space, you will convey your information more accurately.
  8. Use an impersonal writing style and avoid colloquial or imprecise language. Active voice should dominate, and all your points must get backed up by evidence.
  9. Asking a peer to read your final version is a wise idea. An unbiased person can easily spot missing or confusing content.

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If you have a tight deadline and need a research summary done quickly, you can rely on PapersOwl for a fast and urgent essay writing service. Our team of skilled writers can efficiently create a well-written research summary that meets your academic requirements. This will allow you to free up your time and focus on other important tasks.

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