DescriptionWrite 2 PRECIS | 2 full pages each (Articles Attached)WRITING A USEFUL PRCIS FOR A RESEARCH ARTICLE An important skill that academic researchers inevitably acquire is a way of writing a brief synopsis, or prcis, summarizing a research article. This can be enormously useful for conducting research, as one does not have to re-read the same key articles over and over again, but rather refresh ones memory by reading their synopsis. It is a crucial step when writing a review article, such as for the Annual Review of Sociology, in which the objective is to summarize and critically evaluate the state of research on a given topic. It is also a handy skill to have when serving as an anonymous reviewer for a journal. There are a number of ways of writing a prcis, and individuals typically develop their own style based on what works for them. Nevertheless, there are a few features that are common among virtually all good summaries. Ill try to describe those commonalities and the way this works for one personme. Note that most of this is just commonsense. Note also that these recommendations suggest efficient ways of reading articles, and are based on accepted normative models of how to write a research article. I usually begin by reading the abstract, and the stated objectives of the paper. I may then flip to the substantive conclusions to get a sense of where the paper is heading, and if it is an empirical paper, Ill check the data and methods quickly before returning to page one. I highlight as I read, and make quick comments, like yuck, good, great point, dumb, important claim, etc. For an important paper I personally highlight a lotmy goal is to highlight the key points, so the next time I want to read the paper, all I have to do is read the highlighted passages. (I hate reading an article the second time with no highlightsits just as much work as reading the first time.) In evaluating an article, Ill often flip back to the objectives of the paper section to determine if they are consistent with data, models, hypotheses, conclusions, etc. The first step in writing a prcis is to summarize the main points of the paper. What is the paper about? What is it trying to accomplish and why is this important? What are the key advances claimed by the authors? How do they do this? Here is a quick skeleton of a summary: A. Introductory paragraph: What is the topic of the paper, why is it important (as argued by the authors), and how do they claim to advance our knowledge? What are the specific objectives of the paper that presumably advance our knowledge of this important topic? Usually there is a single key finding or theoretical argument that makes a contribution. What is this finding or argument? I like to state this early, and then the rest of my summary shows how the authors come up with the finding or make the argument. B. Summary of Steps Leading to Conclusions For Empirical Studies 1. Theoretical background (if different from above) 2. Hypotheses: Are they listed? Do they follow from the theory/literature review? 3. Methods: Are they an improvement over prior research (e.g., sample drawn, statistical methods used, cases analyzed?) 4. Models used. (Do they follow from the theory discussed or prior findings reviewed?) 5. Findings. 6. Substantive conclusions: do they follow from the findings?
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