BNFO 300 
Molecular Biology Through Discovery
Course at a Glance (Strategies): Summaries
Spring 2016 

One or two times over this semester you will be asked to write a summary of one experiment from one research article. At first, this will not be an easy task -- far from it!

Then why do it?

Research articles are the primary source of scientific truth. Not textbooks. Not the New York Times. Not a Nobel prize winner talking on the Today Show.

Unfortunately, they are exhausting to read,... if you're intent is to understand everything they contain. On the other hand, the task becomes easier if you learn how to extract just what you need from an article to answer your specific question. What you need is a result that addresses your question and an understanding of how that result was obtained. Without the result, you have just a claim with no basis. Without the method, you have no limit on the reach of the result. Without any of that you have no measure of truth, except the reputation of the author. (You may say that relying on reputation is how the world often works, but that's sure not science!)

Writing summaries trains you to read articles in this way, to focus on what you need. Each summary you write makes the next one easier, until you are able to write summaries in your head as you read the article. In short, learning how to write a focused summary is learning how to read a research article.

Finally, writing a summary of an experiment from a well-chosen research article is excellent preparation for your research project. It may serve as the vehicle by which you understand the area you chose to study and how to approach your subject. If you choose the article well, parts of your summary may serve as a central piece of the Introduction to your proposal.

There is advice available on how to write a summary.