TGTU39: Summary assignment instructions

TGTU39: Summary assignment instructions
For TGTU39, compiled by Juha Takkinen,
Originally published on 2010-10-07, updated 2010-10-08 (new submission
Your first assignment in the course is to write an one-page (A4) summary of a
research paper. Tips and instructions are given below, followed by detailed
submission instructions. Read these very carefully.
The research paper that you are going to do a summary on should be 5-15 pages long
and published in a peer-reviewed context, for example in a conference, journal or
workshop. The paper must be in English and not (co-)authored by you. Choose a topic
that is close to your master programme’s. You are assumed to find the research paper
on your own, using among other things the knowledge learned in the library seminar.
How to write a summary
Source: TGTU39 Academic writing/Deane (2010), Academic research, writing and
referencing. Inside track. Pearson; Björk & Räisänen (2003), Academic writing: A
university writing course. Third edition. Studentlitteratur; Swales & Feak (2009),
Academic writing for graduate students, second edition. Michigan Press. The lecture
notes may also be of help.
The characteristics of a good summary are as follows:
• A summary should include full and clear information about the original text:
name of author; title; and, if printed, the title of the printed source: newspaper,
journal, book, etc.
• A summary should indicate the overall purpose, i.e., the controlling idea, of
the original text.
• A summary should also indicate the main supporting points of the controlling
• In a summary you should use your own vocabulary as much as possible. You
should quote only such words and phrases that cannot be expressed
satisfactorily in your own vocabulary. A summary that consists of clauses and
sentences merely patched together from the original is a poor summary: it does
not show that you have understood the original text. Remember the old
insight: “You have not understood what you cannot formulate in your own
• A summary should be as objective as possible and not comment on the
• A summary should be coherent, i.e., you should indicate how the various
points included are related to each other and to the overall controlling idea. It
is more important that the summary is coherent than it follows the chronology
of the original.
• A summary should include summary markers to remind the reader that the
ideas are not yours, for example: ... as the author argues ... maintains ...
suggests, ...
• A summary should, in short, give the reader, who has not read the original
text, an adequate understanding of the nature and development of the ideas in
that text.
As an example of good summaries (although they only take up one-third of a page
and thus are shorter than required for this course), see the longer abstracts that
accompany articles that are published in journals. See for example
Steps for writing a summary
Source: ibid.
When writing such a short summary as one A4 page, you have to focus on essentials:
you have to distinguish more sharply between main points, or controlling ideas, on the
one hand, and subpoints, or supporting ideas, on the other.
You cannot summarise until you have read the text in full. Read the text a first time
for an overview of the content and the main purpose of the text. Answer the following
questions: What is the overall purpose of the text? Is it:
• to analyse the causes of something?
• to propose solutions to a problem?
• to indicate a position on an issue?
• to accomplish more than one of the above, or some other, objectives?
Read (and read again) the text carefully to ensure that you have identified the purpose
of the text correctly during your first reading. Where or how is that purpose
formulated in the text? What is the statement?
Underline the main supporting idea, argument or causes; choose passages to
summarise with care. You should now have the main elements of a brief summary.
Please note that there is no rule that says that you must include something from every
paragraph or section of the text. In other words, you do not have to mention every
point made by an author; you need the most important points only. In order to
structure the ideas you have collected, you may find a tree structure useful for the
What are the logical connections between the various main points you have selected?
Be explicit about these connections. You may wish to use words that create a feeling
of flow and indicate different kinds of links, such words as: because, therefore, due to,
contrary to, also, in addition, first, second, and finally.
Decide which supporting details you wish to include from the original but be sure to
keep the page limit of one A4 page. Use correct paraphrasing (see the lecture notes) in
order to avoid plagiarizing.
Write a first draft and repeat until you feel that you are finished.
Submission instructions for the assignment
Make sure to check your document for spelling errors and basic grammar mistakes.
See the lecture material on tips on tools and techniques to use.
Use single line space, Times New Roman or equivalent serif font and 11-12 points in
size in the body. On top of the page put the course code, your name and student
account ID, for example: “TGTU39 Peter Petrelli petpe001” (without the quotes).
Then, add the bibliographic information (in a standardized format) about the research
paper that you have chosen to write about, including the library database or other
electronic or physical source which you were lucky to find the paper in. Use the same
referencing framework (Harvard, Vancouver, etc.) as used in the research paper that
you are summarizing.
Generate a pdf file of your finished document and name it according to the format
<course_code>-summary-<student-group>-<student-account-id>.pdf. For example, if
your student account ID is petpe001 and student group is BME1, then you must name
the pdf file tgtu39-summary-bme1-petpe001.pdf. The filename must be all in
lower case. The student group abbreviation is the one used in the webreg system,
where you are signed up.
For the research paper, use the same file format (pdf) and file naming convention as
for the summary above, but with paper substituted for summary in the file name. For
example, following the example above, the research paper accompanying the
summary named tgtu39-summary-bme1-petpe001.pdf will be named tgtu39paper-bme1-petpe001.pdf.
The resulting pdf files must be editable, i.e., when converting with a pdf-to-text
service such as or the equivalent command-line
function pdftotext on IDA’s Sunray computers, it must be possible to get the
original text back from the pdf file.
You must then send the summary to Urkund e-mail address of your seminar leader;
this special e-mail address will be listed on the course web site, under Seminars. Do
not use any other address for submitting the assignment or else your submission will
be considered invalid! Set the subject to “TGTU39: Summary assignment” (without
the quotes), leave the body empty and attach the files to the message. Furthermore,
you must send the message from your student e-mail address; in this way the LiU-ID
will be visible to the seminar leader in the list over submissions in Urkund.
Regarding the research paper that you have summarized, you must send it to the
ordinary working e-mail address of your seminar leader (and not to Urkund). This email address will also be listed on the Seminars page on the course web site. Set the
subject of th e-mail message to “TGTU39: Summary research paper” (without the
quotes) and leave the body empty. Use the same file format (pdf) and file naming
convention as for the summary above, but with paper substituted for summary in the
file name. For example, in the first example above, the research paper accompanying
the summary named tgtu39-summary-bme1-petpe001.pdf will be named
The deadline for submitting documents is on October 25 at 5:00 p.m. Please note that
this is a hard deadline so no late submissions will be accepted.
About Urkund
We use the Urkund system for the submission of assignments. Urkund helps us to
check for work that has not been done individually or independently. You can read
more about Urkund at (in Swedish).
When you send your assignment to the e-mail address given above, Urkund will
analyze it and after a couple of days forward information about your submission to the
seminar leader. You will receive an automatic reply from Urkund. Avoid clicking on
any links in the confirmation e-mail from Urkund; just keep this message as a receipt
that you have submitted your assignment. You may have to prove to the examiner that
you have handed in the assignment to Urkund and when you did this.