The objective of this assignment is to synthesize the ideas of a text. It should accurately and concisely summarize the ideas of an author.



  • Text to summarize

Leslie Stevenson, “Is Scientific Research Value-neutral?”, Inquiry, 32, pp. 213-222. 


  • General instructions on the text summary


The objective of this assignment is to synthesize the ideas of a text. It should accurately and concisely summarize the ideas of an author. But it is intended to be more than a simple summary, since it must demonstrate a good understanding of the meaning of the text, as well as the general intention of its author. 

Also, in the summary, we must find all the essential elements of the identified text, that is to say, everything that should allow a good understanding of that text. It is important to keep in mind that the first recipient of any summary is not the instructor, but someone who has never read this text. In addition, in a summary, we should not find any analysis or comments. We should focus only on the subject matter contained in the reviewed text, and nothing more. The following elements must be included in the text:



The goal. We must clearly identify and state what constitutes the main objective of the text to be listed. What does the author propose to do in his text? This objective should normally be formulated in the form of a question, to which the whole text is intended to provide an answer. What are the origins of such events? What is the real nature of such an idea? What is meant by such a notion? Here are three examples of questions that can be used as a goal:


The method. In order to achieve the goal he has set for himself, the author of the text relies on a specific approach. It is all about the method, the means which he took in order to develop his text and, therefore, to achieve his objective.


The main thesis stated in the text. In any text, however long it may be, there is always a single main thesis. Next to this main thesis, we can find secondary theses. But among all the ideas expressed in a text, one main thesis is always stated, namely an idea to which all the other ideas in the text can be reduced. This thesis is the answer to the question that serves as the objective of the text. It is the “raison d'être” of the text, the real reason for which it was written. The whole text can be read as a simple explanation of this unique thesis. Moreover, unlike the main objective, the thesis must necessarily be opened to debate; it must be opened to criticism. In other words, any thesis must be able to be either confirmed or refuted.


This thesis must be formulated in a single sentence in the first paragraph of your summary. In some cases, it may be possible to extract directly from the text a sentence that perfectly sums up the main thesis defended by the author. However, in most cases, without being able to take advantage of such a key phrase, the student will have to formulate it on his own, in his own words and in the form of a single sentence. The precise identification of this thesis - which requires that it can be formulated in a single sentence - is perhaps the greatest difficulty facing the one who writes any summary.


Special requirements for the summary

1. The summary should be written in a continuous text around complete sentences, organized in coherent paragraphs. Particular attention must be paid to the quality of language, since 3% of the mark for this work will relate to this aspect.

2. This summary should be 250 words (approximately 2 pages).

3. It must be written in double space.

4. In that summary, one must find at least two quotes taken from the text.


Evaluation criteria for the text summary (20%)


  • Understanding the question (UQ): relevance of the ideas expressed on the proposed topic (5%).
  • Text organization (TO): clear and structured presentation (ideas / arguments, introduction, development, conclusionreferences, quotes), number of words (12%).
  • Quality of language (QL): spelling, grammar and sentence (3%). 1% loss for each grammar or spelling mistake made. 

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