Template for writing article summaries

So you volunteered to write an article summary for the FDC Library? Thank you so much! You are welcome to suggest your own article, or to work with Emily Hightower or Jessica Hekman to find an appropriate one. When you’re done, work with Emily Hightower to get it published. (You should be in touch with her already if you are reading this page, but if not, reach out through our Contact form.) A template for your summary is below. Remember to keep it very lay friendly! If you have any questions, ask Emily.



Citation following this format: Chu, Erin T., et al. “Inbreeding depression causes reduced fecundity in Golden Retrievers.” Mammalian Genome 30.5-6 (2019): 166-172.

Include links to both the paywall page and the PDF (if publicly available on another website).

Opening bold line to summarize what the study is about and how it relates to functional breeding.

Put the study in context and explain the background. Is this the first study of its kind? Is it building off a large body of research? Why were the researchers interested in studying this? Is it a meta-analysis? You can also (directly or indirectly) define the type of study here.

Briefly present the methods and analysis for the study. If relevant, mention sample size, number of breeds, age of dogs, etc. If the study was well-controlled in a variety of different ways, mention that but don’t necessarily define how each individual variable was controlled. If there is something unique about the paper that makes it worthwhile to dive more into this section, go for it!

When introducing a new term that is not commonly known, put the term in italics and define it in parentheses or within the sentence. When using an acronym that is not commonly known, define the acronym before you use it. Here is an example: Coefficient of inbreeding (COI) is a commonly used measurement of inbreeding in a population. High COI values in purebred dogs can be due to inbreeding over many generations.

An overview of the results and discussion comes next. It can be shorter for simpler papers with one or two findings, and longer for large studies with a wide variety of findings. For most papers, this will be the longest part of the summary. In most cases, present only the averages and not the standard deviation or p-values. Including extra variables can make the summary very “numbers-heavy” and more intimidating to read. You can roughly convey the p-values using words like “significantly” or “strongly.”

It is always helpful to remind readers that most studies are presenting correlations and averages. You may want to define these terms depending on the content of the paper. Better to over-use the word “average” then under-use!

After presenting the study, try to put it in a “bigger picture.” Does it have relevance or implications to other subjects? Does it agree or disagree with previous studies done in dogs? What about other animals? Usually the authors of the paper will do this in the discussion and you can summarize what they said. If it’s a subject you aren’t familiar in, it might be worthwhile to search around or ask an expert. Was this a groundbreaking study when it was published? How does it relate to functional breeding? Why is this research important? Be sure not to overstate the importance of the findings.

Summarize the main takeaway from the paper with a bolded sentence. Remind the reader that while this study did not necessarily “prove” something, it is an important step in gaining a greater understanding of this subject. Explain in your own words that correlation does not equal causation.

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