Thursday, 1 January 2015

Setting up for a Successful Summary

The summary writing is quite straight forwards, but you are likely to be tired and potentially very jaded with the significant time and effort required to get this far already.   

Idea Overload
The best advice I can give is to plan into your work schedule taking a couple of days (ideally a week) off to allow the ideas currently buzzing around your head to go away.  A good night out & some physical exercise are often effective 'clearing' approaches that can give you the appropriate space to allow you to re-read what you have actually written (rather than what you think you want to say).  

Having just read something, when you re-read it (at speed) it often says what is in your head, not actually what is written down.  This advice is particularly important.  

My department at Royal Holloway University of London operates (even for undergraduates) a reasonably laissez faire attitude to content ordering, indeed academic writing in leading journals can use non-traditional structures to some good effect.  You will likely need to include consideration of the limitations of the study (generalisablility of findings,  offering up recommendations for (slight, not major) improvements to the methods, opportunities that were identified too late/because they were too big to be included in your current study).  Take care to recognise some (minor) shortcomings, but not over work this, lest your work be perceived as poorly constructed and executed.  

You are also likely to need to make managerial recommendations or implications, these should be modest and very much grounded from the results.  They should reflect detailed argumentation within the paper.  You should not be offering up solutions to company and industry profitability based on five in depth interviews.  Do not over state your findings.  Writing as an experienced marker I find that modesty here is very appealing.

Functional, not flowery


You summary is merely a re-run of your introduction, something between the abstract (very concise) and the intro (drop the flowery hooks).   The conclusion/summary should explain what happened in each chapter and is different from the introduction, which seeks to engage the reader and justify the importance of the problem being addressed, because it will include a clear focus on what the findings and recommendations were.  It is tempting to cut, copy and paste the introduction - but the reader often remembers the phraseology and it is better to say similar things in a different way.  


Boom, Boom and Boom again

Whilst this may feel like you are repeating yourself - remember the reader is not as familiar with the text as you are & signposting acts as a guide to the reader to remind/reinforce the key messages that you want remembered.    Watch the news at 10 - headlines boom, boom, boom with the striking of Big Ben, 5/6 stories in detail, reminder of headlines & you still will not likely remember more than half of a 30 minute show.