ENGL215-001: English Composition
Guidelines for writing an article summary


Using an electronic database, locate an article dealing with the nurse-patient relationship. Write a one-page summary of the author's main idea and supporting points. This essay is intended to provide you with practice in a) using a database for finding journal articles, b) summarizing in writing material you read, a skill vital to taking notes for future research projects, and c) documenting journal articles in American Psychological Association (APA) style.

Guidelines (from Academic Writing, 2nd edition)

  1. Find an article dealing with the nurse-patient relationship.

  2. Photocopy your article so that you can mark it up as necessary.

  3. Read the article carefully. Identify the author's main purpose in writing the article. Figure out the structure of the article. What are the main sections?

  4. Re-read the article, this time underlining the main points of the article and key words that express these main ideas.

  5. Write a short summary of the author's primary purpose in writing the article.

  6. Write short summaries of each of the author's main ideas.

  7. Revise your summary so that it reads smoothly from section to section

  8. Document your summary in APA style. See below.

  9. Format and submit your essay as directed in the syllabus along with the photocopy of the article.

Citing a source in your writing

You'll notice that when writers insert borrowed information into their own writing, they offer signals that they are borrowing. The typical way of signaling borrowed information is to use the author's name in your own writing and to state what the author is trying to do. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Smith (1999) suggests that the number of ways a nurse can show compassion to a patient are limited only by the nurse's imagination. (Note that APA style requires you to provide the author's last name and the date of the publication in parentheses immediately after the author's name.)

  • After interviewing more than 2500 active-duty military nurses, Jones (2001) argues that "the greatest survival rates among war-time casualties involve patients who feel that their nurses care for them on a personal level" (27). (Note here that direct quotations require a page number in parentheses. Also note where the period comes at the end of the sentence.)

Documentating journal articles Davidhizar, R. (March 1998). Improving your bedside manner. The Journal of Practical Nursing, 48(1), 10-14.
Due Class time, Wednesday, September 7
Sample Summary In the sample essay below I've attempted to illustrate what the essay might look like and I've described what I've done in each section of the essay. To make my essay take up less space, I have single spaced my article, but you should double space as directed in the syllabus. Don't forget to include the Andrews University cover page and a photocopy of the article you summarized. I've also not developed my summary as long as I might; I just wanted to give you an idea of what you might do. I have the original article if you wish to examine it. Should you do so, you will find that I have said exactly the same thing the author says, in my own words, following exactly the same order of ideas that original author did. Your summary should follow the same format.
Identify author's purpose. Mention author's name. Put quotation marks around exact wording the author uses. In an article entitled Improving your bedside manner, Davidhizar observes that the manner in which healthcare providers demonstrate care and concern for their patients significantly influences how patients and their significant others cooperate with and comply with treatment plans, arouses patients' hopefulness and optimism about their recovery, and reduces the likelihood that patients will feel compelled to take legal action against their health care providers. The majority of Davidhizer's article consists of suggestions for how healthcare providers can improve their "bedside manner."
Summarize each of the author's supporting points. Repeat author's name as reminder that this is a summary.

Davidhizer begins by noting the importance of making a favorable first impression which "may make the difference between a patient and significant others being cooperative or not with efforts to provide effective care" (10) (...I would go on to summarize how the author says to make a good first impression, noting his major points in my own words, quoting not to fill space, but only if the way he says something is particularly significant.)

Other directions Davidhizer offers include actively communicating interest and concern, using words and actions to communicate empathy and respect, practicing attending skills, communicating availability, following up on requests, avoiding defensiveness, maintaining a professional manner, answering questions honestly, maintaining a positive attitude, and practicing intentional encouragement. (...I provide his list, but I'd go on to discuss the points in a bit more detail. Since the author seems to stress maintaining a professional manner, I'd probably develop at least this thought more completely. Again, I'm using my own words.)

Summarize author's summary Davidhizer concludes that "positive bedside manners are essential when caring for patients" (14) and he offers several reasons why this is so. (...I finish up with a short summary of Davidhizer's summary, in my own words offering a short version of what he says.).
Provide reference to article using APA guidelines for a journal article


Davidhizar, R. (March 1998). Improving your bedside manner. The Journal of Practical Nursing, 48(1), 10-14.

Writing Center Don't forget that it's always a good idea to get someone from the Writing Center to have a look at your summary to make any suggestions they may have for revision. You can make an appointment with a consultant by calling 3358 or you could stop by Nethery Hall room 203 and make an appointment.