Many students struggle with summarizing. An activity that makes summarizing easier is the GIST Statement. The GIST Statement asks you to convey the main idea of a text in 20 words or less. By answering the five W's and one H of a source, it is easier to condense information about your source into one simple sentence. By the way, GIST stands for "generating interactions between schemata and texts", but don't worry about this!
The Structure of Academic Papers (modified from University of Southern California)
Research papers generally follow a specific format. Here are the different parts of the scholarly article.
The abstract, generally written by the author(s) of the article, provides a concise summary of the whole article. Usually it highlights the focus, study results and conclusion(s) of the article.
In this section, the authors introduce their topic, explain the purpose of the study, and present why it is important, unique or how it adds to existing knowledge in their field. Look for the author's hypothesis or thesis here.
Introduction - Literature Review (Who else)
Many scholarly articles include a summary of previous research or discussions published on this topic, called a "Literature Review". This section outlines what others have found and what questions still remain.
Methodology / Materials and Methods (How)
Find the details of how the study was performed in this section. There should be enough specifics so that you could repeat the study if you wanted.
Results (What happened)
This section includes the findings from the study. Look for the data and statistical results in the form of tables, charts, and graphs. Some papers include an analysis here.
Discussion / Analysis (What it means)
This section should tell you what the authors felt was significant about their results. The authors analyze their data and describe what they believe it means.
Conclusion (What was learned)
Here the authors offer their final thoughts and conclusions and may include: how the study addressed their hypothesis, how it contributes to the field, the strengths and weaknesses of the study, and recommendations for future research. Some papers combine the discussion and conclusion.
Sources for content above and more information:
Danley, A. (2015). Using gist statements for summary of learning content. https://topr.online.ucf.edu/using-gist-statements-for-summary-of-learning-content/
FCAT Express (2013). Gist strategy. Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida. http://fcit.usf.edu/FCAT8R/home/references/additional-reading-strategies/gist-strategy.html
Grey, C. (n.d.). Get the GIST: A summarizing strategy for any content area. Read Write Think. https://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/gist-summarizing-strategy-content
University of Fraser Valley Academic Success Centre (2018). Summarizing a scholarly journal article. https://www.ufv.ca/media/assets/academic-success-centre/handouts/Summarizing-a-Scholarly-Journal-Article-rev2018.pdf
University of Southern California Libraries (2022). Evaluating Information Sources: Reading Scholarly Articles. https://libguides.usc.edu/evaluate/scholarlyarticles