Formal Academic Summary
Short Cuts: Assignment Directions | Grading Criteria | WR 122 Competencies Addressed
See also Example Formal Academic Summaries (online handout)
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Your goal is to offer a fair and objective, concise but clear representation of the main ideas presented in another author’s published argumentative text.
Text to be Summarized. Choose one of these assigned AofA Ch. 13 arguments by Nickel, Hamill, Alter, or Rauch.
1. Length & Manuscript Format: Your summary should be no longer than one typed double-spaced or wordprocessed page, using a readable, standard-sized font and point size, and standard 1” margins. The one-page limit includes the standard MLA header on first page: see Example Formal Academic Summaries and WR 122 Syllabus on Manuscript Format.
2. MLA-Style Bibliographical entry should introduce your AofA argument summary. Note the formatting in the Example Formal Academic Summaries.
[Resource: AofA "Credits," pp. 773-776]
3. First Sentence(s) of each summary should formally re-introduce the name of the author(s) and title of the text you are summarizing, integrate relevant or significant information about the rhetorical context, and establish the topic focus of the texts.
4. Summary Body should present the main points, clearly and concisely: read closely and repeatedly to help you identify the author’s major purpose, thesis, emphasis. Use occasional “author tags” (e.g., “according to Ehrenreich,” or “as Ehrenreich says”) to remind the reader and yourself that you are summarizing another’s text, not giving your own ideas. Represent the major point(s) of the text accurately, fairly, and objectively—such that if the author read your summary, s/he could agree that you have done so. Select material for inclusion carefully and do NOT exceed the length limit given above or your summary will be penalized at least one-half grade. Staying within that limit means you cannot be comprehensive: omit less important points and supporting detail; generalize the point of specific illustrations. Use your interpretation of the author’s thesis, main purpose, and emphasis to guide your decisions regarding what to include and exclude. What NOT to do:
a. Do NOT give your opinions about the ideas summarized or the quality of the writing (e.g., do not state whether you agree or disagree with the author’s ideas, or whether you think this is good or bad writing);
b. Do NOT repeat or restate points unnecessarily: be clear and provide transitions to be coherent and show relationships among main ideas represented, but be concise and make every sentence count;
c. Do NOT use extensive quotations: keep quotations to a minimum, limited to key ideas or special phrasing. In general, paraphrase, in your own words, the main ideas both to be more concise than the original text(s) and to show your understanding of the text(s).
d. Do NOT include minor points and details: stick to the major points; mention specific details and examples only if they are given primary emphasis and proportional space by the author(s) and/or they seem essential to illustrating the thesis or main idea.
5. Command of Standard Written English; and Effective Style, Clarity, and Coherence will also be considered in instructor’s grading. Please edit and proofread carefully.
Worth: 5 % of course grade;
See WR 122 Course Plan for deadlines
These requirements are met (see assignment Directions handout & WR 122 Syllabus)
_____Manuscript Preparation: Final draft (to be graded) is typed/word-processed, double-spaced, prepared in standard manuscript format for heading, etc.
_____Text Summarized selected from these AofA choices: Nickel, Hamill, Alter, or Rauch
_____1. Length & Manuscript Format: Summary does not exceed length limit of one typed double-spaced or wordprocessed page, using readable, standard-sized font & point size, and standard 1” margins.
___1/2 grade penalty for exceeding the length limit
_____2. MLA-Style Bibliographical Entry is complete and correctly formatted; Summary that follows is formatted as one single paragraph.
_____3. First Sentences (a) formally reintroduce the name of the author and title of the text being summarized; (b) integrate relevant or significant information about the rhetorical context; and (c) establish the topic focus of the text.
4. Body of Summary . . .
___(a) demonstrates attentive & accurate close reading; student summarizer does NOT use extensive quotations: paraphrase dominates and shows student summarizer’s reading comprehension and critical reading skills;
___(b) demonstrates careful selection of only main points consistent with the text’s major purpose, thesis, and emphasis; student summarizer does NOT include minor points and details; any specific examples are mentioned only if given primary emphasis or proportional space by the author, and if essential to representing major point(s); any quotations used are justified, limited to key ideas, special terms, or significant phrasing
___(c) presents the main points clearly and concisely, logically and coherently; student summarizer does NOT repeat or restate points unnecessarily; summary is concise without sacrificing clarity, organization is logical & coherence is achieved with appropriate transitions.
___(b) represents the major points fairly and objectively; student summarizer does NOT give her/his opinions about the ideas summarized or the quality of the writing; occasional “author tags” are integrated effectively to remind readers that points summarized are the author’s, not the student summarizer’s.
_____5. Command of Standard Written English (i.e. grammar, usage, punctuation, & mechanics); Effective Style, Clarity, and Coherence.
122 Competencies Addressed
by the Formal Academic Summary assignment:
____Competency 4: “Summarize published arguments . . . .” To complete the Formal Academic Summaries assignment successfully, a student summarizer must be able to analyze the content of a published AofA argument (and to some extent its structure), and distinguish main ideas (e.g., thesis claims and argumentative purposes; major supporting claims, reasons, opinions, assumptions, rebuttals, etc.) from minor points (e.g. less important claims, reasons, supporting evidence, detailed example, etc.)
____Competency 3: “Demonstrate the ability to adopt a persona or tone that serves [the]. . . purposes . . . ” and audience expectations of the Formal Academic Summary genre: to provide a fair, accurate, and objective, concise yet clear representation of the main ideas in the published arguments being summarized. To complete the Formal Academic Summaries assignment successfully, a student summarizer must, therefore, adopt and maintain an objective tone and (disappearing) persona, and use techniques such as “author tags.”
____Competency 2. To successfully complete the Formal Academic Summary, student summarizer must cite the published argument being summarized in a complete and correctly formatted MLA-style bibliographical entry. In doing so, the student writer not only avoids plagiarism, but demonstrates the ability to cite an outside source [i.e. the AofA argument being summarized], “. . . (2) correctly documented according to some currently accepted practice” [i.e. use MLA style for a bibliographical Works Cited entry].
____Competency 5. “Use writing to provide a peer with alternative viewpoints and suggestions for revising and editing.” Participation in the Writers Workshop gives students practice in providing written and oral constructive criticism intended to help their “peers” [i.e. other student authors] effectively revise and edit their preliminary drafts of the Formal Academic Summary.
____Competency 6: “Adopt a writing process to incorporate the special concerns of . . .” summarizing published arguments. To complete the Formal Academic Summaries assignment, the student summarizer must first read critically and carefully, set aside her/his biases, and annotate to identify main points for inclusion; then adapt her/his writing process—e.g. organizing, drafting, workshopping, revising, editing-- to the special genre conventions of the Formal Academic Summary (e.g., editing for conciseness and clarity - see also Directions and Examples handouts).
____Competency 7. Preparing a preliminary draft on time with copies, participating in the Writers Workshop, acting on peer feedback, revising and submitting “Final Draft” on time, gaining instructor’s critique & option to revise further, analyzing and acting on constructive criticism received, give you practice and effective means to improve your own writing.
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