Article Précis and Summary/Analysis Handout

Article Précis

One very common piece of writing you will encounter as a graduate student is the article précis. An article précis provides a summary, in your own words, that captures the main arguments of one essay, excerpt, or article.

The goal of the assignment is to encourage you to read for content, identify the thesis of each article, and think critically about how the article contributes to its field and to your research and scholarship. An article précis is not your chance to give your opinion on the piece; it is not an editorial. While you may wish to provide some analysis, be careful not to state a position on the author's thesis -- just summarize the author's thesis in your own words.

When you are finished with a precis, you should have a concise version of the original article, (and this cannot be stressed enough) in your own words. A reader should be able to learn from your precis: what topic was discussed, analyzed, or argued about in the original article, why the article was written (what the author hoped to accomplish by writing the piece), what conclusions the author made in the piece, and what implications can be drawn from its conclusion(s). In short, the reader should be able to understand the objective of the original article without having read the original article.

Elements of an Article Precis

A précis should provide the following:

1) A heading. This consists of the bibliographical data for the article, following bibliographical style format as set forth by Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (7th ed., 2007). Single space within the heading; double space between the heading and the text of the precis.

2) A summary of the content of the article, including an explicit explanation of the author's thesis and of how the author went about proving her thesis.

Summary/ Analysis

A summary/analysis is very similar to an article précis. As you might have guessed, the difference is that while a precis contains just a summary of the original piece, the summary/analysis provides an analysis as well.

Typically, the goal of a summary/analysis essay is to analyze one of the theoretical or historical pieces exploring the concept of interdisciplinarity and to document your understanding of the argument[s] being made in the piece as well as of the larger questions raised by it, either explicitly or implicitly. You should provide both a summary of the overall content of the piece and an analysis of its assumptions, methodologies, and implications.

How To Read And Annotate For Explication And Analysis