How to Summarize a Journal? 

There are numerous ways to summarise a journal and every option has its own strengths. In order to make the process easier, we have compiled a list of the most popular or most frequently used approaches. Once you’ve read that list and feel confident with which approach you’d like to use, you’re well on your way to summarising many more articles than before!

Approaches to Summarize a Journal


1) Topical summaries –

These are those that condense the article into a few sentences highlighting its main points without getting bogged down in details. Most topical summaries will include the keywords or phrases as well as any statistics or research results/findings that may be important. In fact, a topical summary is the same as the summary provided by a newspaper or news magazine prior to an article’s publication.

2) Abstract summarises – 

These are similar to topical summarises except that they are a lot more detailed and contain more information. In addition to providing a few sentences highlighting the main points of the article, most abstract summarises will include actual statistics/research results (as opposed to just referring to them), and research methodology. Even, it includes some background information for those who are not completely familiar with the subject matter.

3) Abstract/summary hybrid – 

This type of summary combines an abstract and a topical summary into one concise sentence. They are basically a combination of the above two approaches. This condensed text is easy to read and concise but doesn’t completely ignore the research topic or research methods.

4) Indexers – 

These are summarisers that use shorthand code to give you prepackaged keywords (which can include terms such as “empirical,” “meta-analytic,” “regression,” and other key terms). These summaries can be very helpful if you’ve got specific content demands but aren’t sure how best to summarise a research article. Indexers are good for short summaries and can be easily shared.

5) Summaries by authors – 

These summaries are from the viewpoint of a key author or researcher. These summaries tend to have very little depth and breadth and often only contain a few sentences about the article’s main points, research methods, and statistics/results (as opposed to actual research words). 

In addition to summarising the article, these authors’ key claims are often listed at the end of their summary. Some journal articles will even include an author’s summary as part of their featured articles!

6) Endorsements – 

These are from other researchers or reviewers who have endorsed or supported this article in some way, usually in paragraph form. Endorsements can be quite helpful when a journal article is quite abstract and doesn’t highlight key areas well for summarising.

7) Unconventionals – 

These summaries don’t appear in traditional academic journals/books but are frequently found on social media such as Twitter, blogs, and forums. They are popular because they are brief and concise and often include keywords or terms unique to the topic (such as “across the board,” “here’s what we did,” “our conclusion is that,” etc.). 

Unconventional summaries may start off with a statement or question from an author (often from the subtitle rather than the actual title of the article).

8) Table of contents – 

These are based on the article’s table of contents and provide quick summaries of the article’s main points. The table will often include the title, author(s), research methods, results, and a suggested/concise summary. 

These are often good to help journal readers preview all the key points without having to read the entire article, which can be quite time-consuming. Sometimes only part of the table is used – for instance, if it’s a journal that only has three sections per issue (Table 1, etc.), only those sections will be summarised.

9) Image summaries – 

These summarise research articles with images (either photos or graphics). They are usually quite simple, but sometimes more than one image is used.

10) Conclusion summaries – 

These show the main conclusions from the article in paragraph form. These are usually based on the abstract and usually end with a short phrase summarizing what has been said (for example “in summary,” “this has important implications for…”). Note: these summaries are also known as executive summaries and abstracts.

11) Keywords summaries – 

These are based on the headings in the article’s table of contents. They are a quick and easy way to find all the key terms used in an article. Do a search for the keywords of your choice and you’ll see what search engines like Google and Bing will deliver to you when they detect them.

12) Descriptive summaries – 

This is a hybrid between an abstract, table of contents, indexers, and summary by author approach. This short summary can sometimes be very useful if you’re not sure how to summarise certain parts of a journal article or if a particular piece is abstract or too complex to summarise by indexers or abstracts.


A summary is a condensed, written rephrasing of a piece of writing or speech. It condenses the key points into a concise statement without losing important information. Summaries are written from various angles and can often be seen in popular media, such as newspapers, magazines, and books. 

Summaries are also produced by researchers to provide an overview of a topic or article to help readers get an idea of what they’re reading. These summaries can go by many names, such as abstracts (for journal articles), executive summaries (for journal articles), or abstract/summary hybrid (for journal articles).


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