When to summarise
Summaries are usefulwhen there is a need to condense large units of texts or other forms of data. In summarising, the main ideas of the whole text (or a large part of it) are thus reformulated and condensed. Students may be asked to summarise a course book or article, and scholarly articles may include summaries of previous research in order to introduce the new research that is being presented. Although summarising is a good way of presenting in brief the contents of a certain text, theory, interview, etc., it is important to note that in a pure summary, the writer may only summarise a source, not present any new data or ideas. Summarising is thus used to briefly represent what previous books, articles, etc. have expressed. Unless specifically stated in a course assignment, for instance, an academic essay can therefore not merely consist of summaries of previous studies.
Should I summarise or paraphrase?
For the distinction between summary and paraphrase, see the AWELU section on paraphrasing: