ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write a Summary for a Journal Article

Updated on December 8, 2012
First title page of the scientific journal ''Nature'' in November 4, 1869.
First title page of the scientific journal ''Nature'' in November 4, 1869. | Source

Keys to Understanding a Journal Article

Writing a summary for a journal article is not only a main assignment that most teachers assign, but its also one of the best ways to understand a journal article - especially more complex journal articles.

While working on my degree in history, many times most of my sources were academic journals rather than books. While trying to understand if I should really use the piece as my source or not I found it very helpful to write out a summary of the article - even if it wasn't required by the teacher. Its just that important a skill.

Finding Academic Journal Articles

There are many places that have journal articles but sometimes its hard to know if they are credible. In more unlucky situations they try to charge you a lot of money to read the articles and use the information. This is generally the wrong way to go about it. Most schools, colleges, and universities have databases they subscribe to and pay for to allow students to complete their academic work.

One of the best journal article databases in my opinion is JSTOR. This website has most of the information you could need for most subjects and has a very good interface where you can look for specific keywords, lines, authors, subjects, etc.

For other online databases you will want to look at your school's library website. Here they should give both the websites and the way to access them for free.

For those who want to do things the old fashioned way, many colleges and universities have a large amount of academic journals in their libraries. This can be a little daunting however - when I went in to my university they were all set in these rather large, rather heavy binders and I had to go through each journal one by one trying to find titles that sounded like they could have information. Not only do online research methods cut out travel time, they save hours of looking through journals and cross-referencing, so I highly recommend staying online.

New York Library Panoramic View
New York Library Panoramic View | Source

Starting a Summary for a Journal Article: The Reading

There are many ways to start a summary, but it will mainly depend on your personal preference and time.

Most academic journal articles have an abstract at the top which should give you a miniature summary of the article. You should definitely read that along with the entire article if it is an article summarizing assignment. However, if this is not an article summarizing assignment and you are wanting to use information as a source from your paper, feel free to skim through the paper.

Especially before using an article as a source for a paper, it is important to read the whole article (or skim if time is short) because you want to have the whole context, or know if the author is crazy or not. Its hard to overstate the importance of this. I had written a paper based on facts I found in a set of articles by the same author. The day before turning said paper in, I heard something that went against my paper completely. I headed back to my source and decided to read the entire article and it turns out the person was completely crazy - at one point she called Queen Elizabeth (the "virgin queen") the biggest whore in the kingdom. This definitely discredited the source completely and I immediately needed to do new research and write a new paper. This would have all been avoided if I had written a summary and read the whole article rather than just the parts that pertained to what I wanted to use to support my hypothesis.

Journal Article Summarization: Information Gathering

While you are reading the article, make sure you write down (or copy and paste) key details you think are important from the text. As digitization of older articles becomes more and more common, it is easier to copy and paste or search articles to save vast amounts of time. Make sure you have the author's thesis and supporting facts down, along with maybe something you find interesting, and you are ready to begin!


Writing a Journal Article Summary

You should have most of what you need with the list you have but journal article summary assignments are looking for a lot more than just a reformatting of information, they are usually looking for an analysis of the author's ideas, research practices, and qualifications as well.

So - What to write?

  • Start with the research methods, qualifications, and what the research was about. This gives credibility to the source and makes it so you believe in your source if you go on to write a paper using their information, along with telling the reader what the summary is covering.
  • Use the list you made to summarize the article. Make sure you reword the information and make it more concise for the reader - remember, a summary is so you or your reader don't have to read the article so keep it short (or to the page requirement by the teacher).
  • Finish with the closing statements of the article, what the results were, and possibly criticizing the author. If you find you have space with your page requirement, you can add in the most interesting thing you found about the article, something you learned, or how it relates to the class or subject.

After writing this you should definitely re-read everything you wrote to make sure your summary matches the article. However, as long as everything looks good you should be done!

Good luck!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Dannivieve Yabp 

      5 years ago

      If you just know how you save me from my thesis .. Thank you, thank you , thank you for this .. I really understand you make it all so easy .. I love you so much for this

    • jasmineeden profile image

      Jasmine Eden 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      This is such an amazing information for the writer... If any person have a problem to write its article then you must visit and read it ... dead sure you get the relief from your problems.....

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Brilliantly written and explained such valuable information. You certainly made your point here thanks for this Hub. A helpful one to any writer.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)