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How To Write A Research Summary

Deeptanshu D

It’s a common perception that writing a research summary is a quick and easy task. After all, how hard can jotting down 300 words be? But when you consider the weight those 300 words carry, writing a research summary as a part of your dissertation, essay or compelling draft for your paper instantly becomes daunting task.

A research summary requires you to synthesize a complex research paper into an informative, self-explanatory snapshot. It needs to portray what your article contains. Thus, writing it often comes at the end of the task list.

Regardless of when you’re planning to write, it is no less of a challenge, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time. This blog will take you through everything you need to know about research summary so that you have an easier time with it.

How to write a research summary

What is a Research Summary?

A research summary is the part of your research paper that describes its findings to the audience in a brief yet concise manner. A well-curated research summary represents you and your knowledge about the information written in the research paper.

While writing a quality research summary, you need to discover and identify the significant points in the research and condense it in a more straightforward form. A research summary is like a doorway that provides access to the structure of a research paper's sections.

Since the purpose of a summary is to give an overview of the topic, methodology, and conclusions employed in a paper, it requires an objective approach. No analysis or criticism.

Research summary or Abstract. What’s the Difference?

They’re both brief, concise, and give an overview of an aspect of the research paper. So, it’s easy to understand why many new researchers get the two confused. However, a research summary and abstract are two very different things with individual purpose. To start with, a research summary is written at the end while the abstract comes at the beginning of a research paper.

A research summary captures the essence of the paper at the end of your document. It focuses on your topic, methods, and findings. More like a TL;DR, if you will. An abstract, on the other hand, is a description of what your research paper is about. It tells your reader what your topic or hypothesis is, and sets a context around why you have embarked on your research.

Getting Started with a Research Summary

Before you start writing, you need to get insights into your research’s content, style, and organization. There are three fundamental areas of a research summary that you should focus on.

How to Structure Your Research Summary

The research summary is nothing but a concise form of the entire research paper. Therefore, the structure of a summary stays the same as the paper. So, include all the section titles and write a little about them. The structural elements that a research summary must consist of are:

It represents the topic of the research. Try to phrase it so that it includes the key findings or conclusion of the task.

The abstract gives a context of the research paper. Unlike the abstract at the beginning of a paper, the abstract here, should be very short since you’ll be working with a limited word count.


This is the most crucial section of a research summary as it helps readers get familiarized with the topic. You should include the definition of your topic, the current state of the investigation, and practical relevance in this part. Additionally, you should present the problem statement, investigative measures, and any hypothesis in this section.


This section provides details about the methodology and the methods adopted to conduct the study. You should write a brief description of the surveys, sampling, type of experiments, statistical analysis, and the rationality behind choosing those particular methods.

Create a list of evidence obtained from the various experiments with a primary analysis, conclusions, and interpretations made upon that. In the paper research paper, you will find the results section as the most detailed and lengthy part. Therefore, you must pick up the key elements and wisely decide which elements are worth including and which are worth skipping.

This is where you present the interpretation of results in the context of their application. Discussion usually covers results, inferences, and theoretical models explaining the obtained values, key strengths, and limitations. All of these are vital elements that you must include in the summary.

Most research papers merge conclusion with discussions. However, depending upon the instructions, you may have to prepare this as a separate section in your research summary. Usually, conclusion revisits the hypothesis and provides the details about the validation or denial about the arguments made in the research paper, based upon how convincing the results were obtained.

The structure of a research summary closely resembles the anatomy of a scholarly article . Additionally, you should keep your research and references limited to authentic and  scholarly sources only.

Tips for Writing a Research Summary

The core concept behind undertaking a research summary is to present a simple and clear understanding of your research paper to the reader. The biggest hurdle while doing that is the number of words you have at your disposal. So, follow the steps below to write a research summary that sticks.

1. Read the parent paper thoroughly

You should go through the research paper thoroughly multiple times to ensure that you have a complete understanding of its contents. A 3-stage reading process helps.

a. Scan: In the first read, go through it to get an understanding of its basic concept and methodologies.

b. Read: For the second step, read the article attentively by going through each section, highlighting the key elements, and subsequently listing the topics that you will include in your research summary.

c. Skim: Flip through the article a few more times to study the interpretation of various experimental results, statistical analysis, and application in different contexts.

Sincerely go through different headings and subheadings as it will allow you to understand the underlying concept of each section. You can try reading the introduction and conclusion simultaneously to understand the motive of the task and how obtained results stay fit to the expected outcome.

2. Identify the key elements in different sections

While exploring different sections of an article, you can try finding answers to simple what, why, and how. Below are a few pointers to give you an idea:


3. Prepare the first draft

Now that you’ve listed the key points that the paper tries to demonstrate, you can start writing the summary following the standard structure of a research summary. Just make sure you’re not writing statements from the parent research paper verbatim.

Instead, try writing down each section in your own words. This will not only help in avoiding plagiarism but will also show your complete understanding of the subject. Alternatively, you can use a summarizing tool (AI-based summary generators) to shorten the content or summarize the content without disrupting the actual meaning of the article.

SciSpace Copilot is one such helpful feature! You can easily upload your research paper and ask Copilot to summarize it. You will get an AI-generated, condensed research summary. SciSpace Copilot also enables you to highlight text, clip math and tables, and ask any question relevant to the research paper; it will give you instant answers with deeper context of the article..

4. Include visuals

One of the best ways to summarize and consolidate a research paper is to provide visuals like graphs, charts, pie diagrams, etc.. Visuals make getting across the facts, the past trends, and the probabilistic figures around a concept much more engaging.

5. Double check for plagiarism

It can be very tempting to copy-paste a few statements or the entire paragraphs depending upon the clarity of those sections. But it’s best to stay away from the practice. Even paraphrasing should be done with utmost care and attention.

6. Religiously follow the word count limit

You need to have strict control while writing different sections of a research summary. In many cases, it has been observed that the research summary and the parent research paper become the same length. If that happens, it can lead to discrediting of your efforts and research summary itself. Whatever the standard word limit has been imposed, you must observe that carefully.

7. Proofread your research summary multiple times

The process of writing the research summary can be exhausting and tiring. However, you shouldn’t allow this to become a reason to skip checking your academic writing several times for mistakes like misspellings, grammar, wordiness, and formatting issues. Your research summary can stand out from the others, provided it is drafted perfectly on both technicality and comprehension parameters.

8. Watch while you write

Keep a keen observation of your writing style. You should use the words very precisely, and in any situation, it should not represent your personal opinions on the topic. You should write the entire research summary in utmost impersonal, precise, factually correct, and evidence-based writing.

9. Ask a friend/colleague to help

Once you are done with the final copy of your research summary, you must ask a friend or colleague to read it. You must test whether your friend or colleague could grasp everything without referring to the parent paper. This will help you in ensuring the clarity of the article.

Once you become familiar with the research paper summary concept and understand how to apply the tips discussed above in your current task, summarizing a research summary won’t be that challenging. While traversing the different stages of your academic career, you will face different scenarios where you may have to create several research summaries.

In such cases, you just need to look for answers to simple questions like “Why this study is necessary,” “what were the methods,” “who were the participants,” “what conclusions were drawn from the research,” and “how it is relevant to the wider world.” Once you find out the answers to these questions, you can easily create a good research summary following the standard structure and a precise writing style.

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How students can write an effective summary for research papers.

How Students Can Write An Effective Summary For Research Papers

10 Best Tips To Write A Summary For Research Papers

There is no one perfect way to write an effective summary for a research paper. However, some key elements should always be included. To write an effective summary, you first need to understand the purpose of the summary. A summary is simply a brief overview of the main points of a research paper. It should not include any new information or arguments, but simply, concisely state the main points.

The summary should be placed at the beginning of the research paper, after the title and abstract. It should be written in a clear and concise manner and should be no more than one paragraph long. When writing the summary, keep the following in mind:

10 Useful Tips For Students To Write An Effective Summary

To write an effective summary, students can take help from the useful tips given below:

1. Read The Entire Research Paper

Before you can write an effective summary, you must first read and understand the research paper. This may seem like a time-consuming task, but it is essential to write a good summary. Make sure that you understand all of the main points of the paper before you begin writing.

2. Take Notes As You Read

As you read, take notes on the main points of the paper. These notes will come in handy when you are writing your summary. Be sure to note any important information, such as the main conclusions of the author's writing. This useful tip will also help you to write an effective summary for a blog in less time.

3. Organize Your Thoughts

Once you have finished reading and taking notes on the paper, it is time to start writing your summary. Before you begin, take a few minutes to organize your thoughts. Write down the main points that you want to include in your summary. Then, arrange these points in a logical order.

4. Write The Summary

Now that you have organized your thoughts, it is time to start writing the summary. Begin by stating the author’s thesis statement or main conclusion. Then, briefly describe each of the main points from the paper. Be sure to write in a clear and concise manner. When you are finished, reread your summary to make sure that it accurately reflects the content of the paper.

5. Write The Introduction

After you have written the summary, it is time to write the introduction. The introduction should include an overview of the paper and a brief description of the summary. It should also state the main idea.

6. Introduce The Report's Purpose

The summary of a research paper should include a brief description of the paper's purpose. It should state the paper's thesis statement and briefly describe each of the main points of the paper.

7. Use Keywords To Introduce The Report

When introducing the summary of a research paper, use keywords that will be familiar to the reader. This will help them understand what the summary is about and why it is important.

8. State The Author's Conclusions

The summary of a research paper should include a brief statement of the author's conclusions. This will help your teacher understand what the paper is trying to achieve.

9. Keep It Concise

A summary should be concise and to the point. It should not include any new information or arguments. It should be no more than one paragraph long.

10. Edit And Proofread

After you have written the summary, edit and proofread it to make sure that it is accurate and clear. This will help ensure that your summary is effective and free of any grammar or spelling errors.

Tools To Write An Effective Summary For A Research Paper

1. summary by google docs.

Recently Google has announced a new "summary" feature in their online docs. This will automatically generate a summary of the content written in Google Docs. This summary generating feature uses the latest AI technologies to generate a quick and precise summary of the entire content within seconds. It focuses on the main ideas and best sentences, and then writes them in the summary section with one click. This will help students to generate the best summary of the papers without any hassle.

2. Summarizer

A text summarizer is a free online tool that can be used to create a summary of a text within seconds. Students can use a summarizer to provide an overview of the main points in the paper. Besides this, an online text summarizer can help students save time when writing a research paper. By creating a summary of the text, they can quickly and easily create a concise version of the paper that can be used as a reference point, with a single click.

3. Grammar Check

The purpose of a grammar checker tool is to help students edit and proofread their summary. This will ensure that the summary is error-free and clear. Apart from this, the grammar checker can help students to improve their writing skills as well, as it highlights all the writing errors within the content and provides the best suggestions to fix them.

Why Write An Effective Summary For A Research Paper?

The summary of a research paper is important because it gives your teacher a quick and easy way to understand the paper's main points. Additionally, an effective summary can help you save time when writing a research paper. By writing a summary, you can quickly and easily create a concise version of the paper that can be used as a reference point.

What Are The Main Elements Of An Effective Summary For Research Papers?

There are several elements that should be included in an effective summary for a research paper. These elements include:

Six elements a research summary should include

make a summary about the parts of a research paper

Summarizing a research paper (or papers) sounds like it should be a pretty quick, easy task. After all, how hard can writing 200 words be?! But whether you’re writing a summary to include in your essay or dissertation, or you need to draft a compelling abstract for your own paper, distilling complex research into an informative, easy-to-read snapshot can be one of the most daunting parts of the research process. For that reason, it’s often the activity that gets left to last.

Having a few questions top of mind while you draft your summary can really help to structure your thoughts and make sure you include the most important aspects of the research. In short, every academic summary should cover ‘the why’, ‘the how’, ‘the who’ and ‘the what’ of a study. Asking yourself the following six questions as you start to think about your summary can help you to structure your thoughts and find the right words.

1.    Why is this study necessary and important?

The ‘why’ can often be found in the first sentence of the introduction or background of a research article. Let’s have a look at a 2014 paper about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans (1) :

“ Plastic pollution  is globally distributed across all oceans due to its properties of buoyancy and durability, and the sorption of toxicants to plastic while traveling through the environment have led some researchers to claim that synthetic polymers in the ocean should be regarded as hazardous waste.”

Another quick way of identifying the ‘why’ of the research is to search for the subject of the study (eg. ‘Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans’) in Wikipedia. This can help inject wider significance into your research summary, for example:

“Waterborne plastic poses a serious threat to  fish ,  seabirds ,  marine reptiles , and  marine mammals , as well as to boats and coasts.”

The Abstract of this paper also points to a gap in the research – the lack of data on the amount of plastic waste in the Southern Hemisphere.

2.    Who were the participants?

It’s good practice to include statistical information about the study subjects or participants in your summary. This will quickly tell your reader how well the key findings are backed up. This part of the summary can combine a short narrative description of the participants (eg. age, location etc); what was ‘done’ to the participants as part of the study; what impact the study had on the participants and a brief description of the control group.

3.    What were the methods used?

How was the study carried out? What kind of materials were used to conduct the study and in what quantities or doses? Again, where possible include statistics here: number of materials; sample sizes; metrics (weight, volume, concentration etc). Here’s an example summary of a methods section from the above paper on ocean plastic:

“Net tows were conducted using neuston nets with a standard mesh size of 0.33 mm towed between 0.5 and 2 m s −1 at the sea surface  for 15–60 minutes outside of the vessel’s wake to avoid downwelling of debris. Samples were preserved in 5% formalin. Microplastic was manually separated from natural debris, sorted through stacked Tyler sieves into three size classes counted individually and weighed together.”

Including information about the consistency of methods or techniques used will help underline the credibility of the research.

4.    What were the key findings of the study?

Stick to the high level, headline finding of the research here. What do the quantitative results of the study reveal that was previously unknown? Again, including statistics where you can will help reinforce the findings, but remember to keep it brief. Here’s an example from the same plastic pollution paper:

“Based on the model results, the authors estimate that at least 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing 268,940 tons are currently floating at sea.”

5.    What conclusion was drawn from the research?

At this stage,  try to focus on the overall outcome of the research, but also what makes the study both significant and novel. What was uncovered as part of the research that wasn’t previously known? Do the results of the study tell us something different to what was previously known or assumed?

In the plastic pollution paper, what was previously unknown was an estimate of the amount of plastic in the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere. The authors explain that their results confirm the same pattern of dispersal in the Southern Hemisphere as for the Northern Hemisphere:

“Surprisingly, the total amounts of  plastics  determined for the  southern hemisphere  oceans are within the same range as for the  northern hemisphere  oceans, which is unexpected given that inputs are substantially higher in the northern than in the  southern hemisphere .”

6.    What kind of relevance does the research have for the wider world? (the big why)

Rounding off your summary with a powerful statement that shows how the outcome of the research has a wider significance is good practice. The ‘big why’ can often be found in the Discussion or at the end of the Conclusion of a research article, and often in the Abstract as well.

Including clear, concise research summaries in your essay or dissertation can be very beneficial in strengthening your argument and demonstrating your understanding of complex research, all of which can help to improve your final grade. Using this six-point formula as a way of structuring your summary will also help you to think more critically about the research you read and make it easier for you to communicate your understanding both verbally and in writing.

Try out Scholarcy’s Smart Summarizer to help draft your own research summary.

Eriksen, M., Lebreton, L., Carson, H., Thiel, M., Moore, C., Borerro, J., Galgani, F., Ryan, P. and Reisser, J., 2014. Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea.  PLoS ONE , 9(12), p.e111913.

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Research Summary Structure, Samples, Writing Steps, and Useful Suggestions

Updated 01 Feb 2023

What is a Research Summary and Why Is It Important?

A research summary is a type of paper designed to provide a brief overview of a given study - typically, an article from a peer-reviewed academic journal. It is a frequent type of task encountered in US colleges and universities, both in humanitarian and exact sciences, which is due to how important it is to teach students to properly interact with and interpret scientific literature and in particular, academic papers, which are the key way through which new ideas, theories, and evidence are presented to experts in many fields of knowledge. A research summary typically preserves the structure/sections of the article it focuses on. Get the grades you want with our professional research paper helper .

How to Write a Research Summary – Typical Steps

Follow these clear steps to help avoid typical mistakes and productivity bottlenecks, allowing for a more efficient through your writing process:

Read Also:  Criminal Justice Research Topics To Impress Your Teacher

Research Summary Structure

The research summary format resembles that found in the original paper (just a concise version of it). Content from all sections should be covered and reflected upon, regardless of whether corresponding headings are present or not. Key structural elements of any research summary are as follows:

Note that if you need some model research summary papers done before you start writing yourself (this will help familiarize you with essay structure and various sections), you could simply recruit our company by following the link provided below.

Need more writing assistance?

Connect with our top writers and receive a research paper sample crafted to your needs.

Research Summary Writing Tips

Below is a checklist of useful research paper tips worth considering when writing research summaries:

For additional information on formatting, structure, and for more writing tips, check out these research paper guidelines on our website. Remember that we cover most research papers writing services you can imagine and can offer help at various stages of your writing project, including proofreading, editing, rewriting for plagiarism elimination, and style adjustment.

Research Summary Example 1

Below are some defining elements of a sample research summary written from an imaginary article.

Title – “The probability of an unexpected volcanic eruption in Yellowstone” Introduction – this section would list those catastrophic consequences hitting our country in  case of a massive eruption and the importance of analyzing this matter. Hypothesis –  An eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would be preceded by intense precursory activity manifesting a few weeks up to a few years in advance. Results – these could contain a report of statistical data from multiple volcanic eruptions happening worldwide looking specifically at activity that preceded these events (in particular, how early each type of activity was detected). Discussion and conclusion – Given that Yellowstone is continuously monitored by scientists and that signs of an eruption are normally detected much in advance and at least a few days in advance, the hypothesis is confirmed. This could find application in creating emergency plans detailing an organized evacuation campaign and other response measures.

Research Summary Example 2

Below is another sample sketch, also from an imaginary article.

Title – “The frequency of extreme weather events in US in 2000-2008 as compared to the ‘50s” Introduction – Weather events bring immense material damage and cause human victims. Hypothesis – Extreme weather events are significantly more frequent nowadays than in the ‘50s Results – these could list the frequency of several categories of extreme events now and then: droughts and associated fires, massive rainfall/snowfall and associated floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, arctic cold waves, etc. Discussion and conclusion – Several types of extreme events indeed became significantly more frequent recently, confirming this hypothesis. This increasing frequency correlates reliably with rising CO2 levels in atmosphere and growing temperatures worldwide and in the absence of another recent major global change that could explain a higher frequency of disasters but also knowing how growing temperature disturbs weather patterns, it is natural to assume that global warming (CO2) causes this increase in frequency. This, in turn, suggests that this increased frequency of disasters is not a short-term phenomenon but is here to stay until we address CO2 levels.

Let Professionals Help With Your Research Summary

Writing a research summary has its challenges, but becoming familiar with its structure (i.e. the structure of an article), understanding well the article that needs to be summarized, and adhering to recommended guidelines will help the process go smoothly. Still, suppose you happen to be severely out of time and feel like "I  need help writing a research paper " (overloaded at work/college/university). In that case, you can order research papers online from our writing service.

Simply create your account in a few clicks, place an order by uploading your instructions, and upload or indicate the article requiring a summary and choose a preferred writer for this task (according to experience, rating, bidding price). Our transparent system puts you in control, allowing you to set priorities as you wish (to our knowledge, few competitors have something equivalent in place). Obviously, we can help with many other essay types such as critical thinking essay, argumentative essay, etc. In particular, the research paper definition article on our website highlights a few popular paper types we work with.

Another unique advantage is that we allow and encourage you to communicate directly with your writer (if you wish) guiding his or her work – feel free to request partial drafts, to clarify potential issues you worry about, or even to revise papers as often as needed (for free) until you achieve a satisfactory result. We’ve implemented a system where money is released to writers only after students are fully satisfied with what they get. If you feel like giving it a try, it’s easy and worry-free! Just follow the link below.


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make a summary about the parts of a research paper

A quick guide on how to write a research paper summary

Journal submission: Tips to submit better manuscripts | Paperpal

One of the most important skills you can imbibe as an academician is to master the art of writing a research paper summary. During your academic journey, you may need to summarize research findings quite often and for varied reasons – be it to write an introduction for a peer-reviewed publication, to submit a critical review, or to simply create a useful database for future referencing. It can be quite challenging to effectively summarize complex work, which is where a pre-determined work-flow can help you optimize the process. Investing time in developing this skill can also help you improve your scientific acumen, increasing your efficiency and productivity at work. This article illustrates some useful advice on how to write a research summary effectively.

1. Determine the focus of your summary

Before you begin, determine the aim of your research paper summary. This will give you more clarity on how to summarize a research paper, including what to showcase and where to find the information you need, which accelerates the entire process. If you are aiming for the summary to be a supporting document or a proof of principle for your current research findings, then you can look for elements that are relevant to your work. On the other hand, if your summary is intended to be a critical review of the research article, you may need to use a completely different lens while reading the paper, and conduct your own research regarding the accuracy of the data presented. Then again, if the summary is intended to be a source of information for future referencing, you will likely have a different approach. This makes determining the focus of your summary a key step in writing an effective research paper summary.

2. Invest enough time to understand the topic deeply

In order to write an effective summary, you need to dive into the topic of the research article. Begin by doing a quick scan for relevant information under each section of the paper. The abstract is a great starting point as it helps you to quickly identify the top highlights of the research article, speeding up the process of understanding the key findings in the paper. Be sure to do a careful read of the research paper, preparing notes that describe each section in your own words. This will save your time and energy in revisiting the paper to confirm relevant details and ease the process of writing a research paper summary. When reading the paper, be sure to acknowledge and ignore any pre-conceived notions that you might have regarding the research topic. This will not only help you understand the topic better but will also help you develop a more balanced perspective, ensuring that your research paper summary is devoid of any personal opinions or biases.

make a summary about the parts of a research paper

3. Keep the summary crisp, brief and engaging

A research paper summary is usually intended to highlight and explain the key points of any study, saving the time required to read through the entire article. Thus, your primary goal while compiling the summary should be to keep it as brief, crisp and readable as possible. Usually, a short introduction followed by 1-2 paragraphs is adequate for an effective research article summary. Avoid going into too much technical detail while describing the main results and conclusions of the study. Rather focus on connecting the main findings of the study to the hypothesis, which can make the summary more engaging. For example, instead of simply reporting an original finding – “the graph showed a decrease in the mortality rates…”, you can say, “there was a decline in the number of deaths, as predicted by the authors while beginning the study…” or “there was a decline in the number of deaths, which came as a surprise to the authors as this was completely unexpected…”. Unless you are writing a critical review of the research article, the language used in the summary should revolve merely around reporting the findings, not assessing them. On the other hand, if you intend to submit your summary as a critical review, make sure to provide sufficient external evidence to support your final analysis. Invest sufficient time in editing and proofreading your research paper summary thoroughly to ensure you’ve captured the findings accurately. You can also get an external opinion on the preliminary draft of the research summary from colleagues or peers who have not worked on the research topic.

Mistakes to avoid while writing your research paper summary

In addition to the above steps, watch out for these red flags while writing your summary.

We hope the recommendations listed above will help answer the question of how to summarize a research paper and enable you to tackle the process effectively.

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Research Summary: What is it & how to write one

research summary

The Research Summary is used to report facts about a study clearly. You will almost certainly be required to prepare a research summary during your academic research or while on a research project for your organization.

If it is the first time you have to write one, the writing requirements may confuse you. The instructors generally assign someone to write a summary of the research work. Research summaries require the writer to have a thorough understanding of the issue.

This article will discuss the definition of a research summary and how to write one.

What is a research summary?

A research summary is a piece of writing that summarizes your research on a specific topic. Its primary goal is to offer the reader a detailed overview of the study with the key findings. A research summary generally contains the article’s structure in which it is written.

You must know the goal of your analysis before you launch a project. A research overview summarizes the detailed response and highlights particular issues raised in it. Writing it might be somewhat troublesome. To write a good overview, you want to start with a structure in mind. Read on for our guide.

Why is an analysis recap so important?

Your summary is going to tell readers everything about your research project. This is the critical piece that your stakeholders will read to identify your findings and valuable insights. Having a good and concise research summary that presents facts and comes with no research biases is the critical deliverable of any research project.

We’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you write a good research summary below.

Research Summary Guide

If you’re doing any research, you will write a summary, which will be the most viewed and more important part of the project. So keep a guideline in mind before you start. Focus on the content first and then worry about the length. Use the cheat sheet/checklist in this article to organize your summary, and that’s all you need to write a great research summary!

But once your summary is ready, where is it stored? Most teams have multiple documents in their google drives, and it’s a nightmare to find projects that were done in the past. Your research data should be democratized and easy to use.

We at QuestionPro launched a research repository for research teams, and our clients love it. All your data is in one place, and everything is searchable, including your research summaries! 

Authors: Prachi, Anas


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How to Write a Summary of a Research Paper

Last Updated: July 10, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden . Hannah Madden is a writer, editor, and artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, she graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Hannah enjoys writing articles about conservation, sustainability, and eco-friendly products. When she isn’t writing, you can find Hannah working on hand embroidery projects and listening to music. This article has been viewed 20,871 times. Learn more...

Writing a summary of an academic research paper is an important skill, and it shows that you understand all of the relevant information presented to you. However, writing a summary can be tough, since it requires you to be completely objective and keep any analysis or criticisms to yourself. By keeping your goal in mind as you read the paper and focusing on the key points, you can write a succinct, accurate summary of a research paper to prove that you understood the overall conclusion.

Reading the Research Paper

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Including Relevant Information

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Writing Research Papers

Whether you are writing a B.S. Degree Research Paper or completing a research report for a Psychology course, it is highly likely that you will need to organize your research paper in accordance with American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines.  Here we discuss the structure of research papers according to APA style.

Major Sections of a Research Paper in APA Style

A complete research paper in APA style that is reporting on experimental research will typically contain a Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References sections. 1  Many will also contain Figures and Tables and some will have an Appendix or Appendices.  These sections are detailed as follows (for a more in-depth guide, please refer to " How to Write a Research Paper in APA Style ”, a comprehensive guide developed by Prof. Emma Geller). 2

What is this paper called and who wrote it? – the first page of the paper; this includes the name of the paper, a “running head”, authors, and institutional affiliation of the authors.  The institutional affiliation is usually listed in an Author Note that is placed towards the bottom of the title page.  In some cases, the Author Note also contains an acknowledgment of any funding support and of any individuals that assisted with the research project.

One-paragraph summary of the entire study – typically no more than 250 words in length (and in many cases it is well shorter than that), the Abstract provides an overview of the study.


What is the topic and why is it worth studying? – the first major section of text in the paper, the Introduction commonly describes the topic under investigation, summarizes or discusses relevant prior research (for related details, please see the Writing Literature Reviews section of this website), identifies unresolved issues that the current research will address, and provides an overview of the research that is to be described in greater detail in the sections to follow.

What did you do? – a section which details how the research was performed.  It typically features a description of the participants/subjects that were involved, the study design, the materials that were used, and the study procedure.  If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Methods section.  A rule of thumb is that the Methods section should be sufficiently detailed for another researcher to duplicate your research.

What did you find? – a section which describes the data that was collected and the results of any statistical tests that were performed.  It may also be prefaced by a description of the analysis procedure that was used. If there were multiple experiments, then each experiment may require a separate Results section.

What is the significance of your results? – the final major section of text in the paper.  The Discussion commonly features a summary of the results that were obtained in the study, describes how those results address the topic under investigation and/or the issues that the research was designed to address, and may expand upon the implications of those findings.  Limitations and directions for future research are also commonly addressed.

List of articles and any books cited – an alphabetized list of the sources that are cited in the paper (by last name of the first author of each source).  Each reference should follow specific APA guidelines regarding author names, dates, article titles, journal titles, journal volume numbers, page numbers, book publishers, publisher locations, websites, and so on (for more information, please see the Citing References in APA Style page of this website).

Tables and Figures

Graphs and data (optional in some cases) – depending on the type of research being performed, there may be Tables and/or Figures (however, in some cases, there may be neither).  In APA style, each Table and each Figure is placed on a separate page and all Tables and Figures are included after the References.   Tables are included first, followed by Figures.   However, for some journals and undergraduate research papers (such as the B.S. Research Paper or Honors Thesis), Tables and Figures may be embedded in the text (depending on the instructor’s or editor’s policies; for more details, see "Deviations from APA Style" below).

Supplementary information (optional) – in some cases, additional information that is not critical to understanding the research paper, such as a list of experiment stimuli, details of a secondary analysis, or programming code, is provided.  This is often placed in an Appendix.

Variations of Research Papers in APA Style

Although the major sections described above are common to most research papers written in APA style, there are variations on that pattern.  These variations include: 

Departures from APA Style

In some cases, official APA style might not be followed (however, be sure to check with your editor, instructor, or other sources before deviating from standards of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association).  Such deviations may include:

Workshops and Downloadable Resources

Downloadable Resources

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

APA Journal Article Reporting Guidelines

External Resources

1 VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) (pp. 41-60).  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

2 geller, e. (2018).  how to write an apa-style research report . [instructional materials]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.

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