Students find a scholarly research article that significantly connects to the course reading and write a précis, followed by a list of questions, comments and ideas for further inquiry.
Rationale. Learning to read deeply and summarize the work of other scholars is an essential competency in graduate school. Careful reading can activate your imagination and help you generate new ideas to advance new knowledge in the field.
Definition. A précis is a concise written document that captures the argument structure of an author’s work in a brief recapitulation of the key ideas. A precis does not quote from the original and it does not offer opinion, commentary or analysis.
Process and Content. Use library research to find a scholarly article related to this course on a topic of interest to you. Generally you will choose either a journal article or a book chapter. You can use HELIN for book titles and Google Scholar and Academic Search Complete or other library databases to access journal articles. Consider exploring academic social networks like Mendeley and Academia.com as well.
A NOTE ABOUT QUALITY: Beginning researchers should not bother with junk. Most academic articles never receive even a single citation. Skip those works. Instead, select important foundational texts that have been cited by others. Learn more about using Citation Analysis in Google Scholar.
How to Write a Precis. Select an article that is important (and interesting to you) and one that you can understand. Make an outline of the overall structure of the article. Underline the most important ideas in the article to create a list, then place those ideas in sentences in the order in which they appeared in the original. Do not use the author’s phrasing– instead, put the ideas in your own words. Include a full APA citation and a hyperlink or digital copy of the original article. Learn more about writing a precis.
Generate Inquiry Questions. After you have precisely summarized the article you read, you have become more highly aware of its argument and structure. You can also more easily see its omissions, weaknesses and limitations. You can now respond to the text in an in-depth way because you understand it fully. Provide a list of ideas, comments and questions that are important to you as you respond to the next and connect it to your own interests.
Criteria for Evaluation:
1. You’ve selected an important, substantive article that is relevant to the course themes and readings and fits with your own professional or personal interests, background and life experience.
2. You have created a short work of writing that captures the structure of the author’s argument with precision in a way that demonstrates your excellent reading comprehension and writing skills
3. You have offered your own analysis, interpretation and questions in a separate section at the end of the document. Your work is posted on your own website by the deadline and you have shared the link with the instructor. You have provided both an APA citation and a hyperlink to or copy of the original article.