Scholarly article analysis

Article Summary and Analysis

RLGN 1450: Religion and Media

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Article is on UM Learn, in Readings.

Lofton, Kathryn. “The Celebrification of Religion in the Age of Infotainment.” In Consuming Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017, 122-138.  

Your assignment is to write a summary of no more than 500 words. Do not include your name on your assignment. Title should be bibliography of the article. Refer to rubric.


The purpose of an article summary is to give the reader a brief overview of the study.

Goal of assignment: Familiarity with research article and topics related to course. Critical reading, summarizing, and clear writing.

You can usually expect to find the following in a research article or edited book chapter:

  • Title, Literature Review/State of the question, Argument and Evidence, References.

Common Problems in Article Summaries

The most common problem that students have when writing an article summary is that they misunderstand the goal of the assignment. In an article summary, your job is to write about the article itself, not about the actual topic of the article. What does Lofton want to find out? What evidence does she use? What is the argument?

How to Summarize a Research Article

  • Identify the author’s focus/argument.
  • Allow enough time to read article. Before you can write about the research, you have to understand it. This can often take a lot longer than most people realize. Only when you can clearly explain the study in your own words to someone who hasn’t read the article are you ready to write about it.
  • As you read, consider the following questions:

1. What is the topic?

2. What is the research question? In other words, what is the author trying to find out/say about that topic?

3. What is the thesis or position? What are the supporting arguments?

4. How are supporting arguments developed? What kind of evidence is used?

5. What is the significance of the author’s thesis? What does it help you to understand about the topic?

  • Use Effective Reading Strategies (see doc on UM Learn, in Miscellaneous)

Writing the Summary

  • Identify what information is important and condense.
  • Write a first draft.
  • Rely primarily on paraphrasing, scattered with short illustrative quotes (include only page number following these quotes, e.g. (62).
  • Quotes should never stand alone. Here is an example of how they should be introduced – notice punctuation: Lofton argues that “x, y, z” (20).
  • Edit for completeness and accuracy.
    • Add information for completeness where necessary. If you understand the article, you will need to cut less important information. Stay focused on the research question, be concise, and avoid generalities.
  • Edit for style.
    • Eliminate wordiness, including most adverbs (“very”, “clearly”).
    • Use specific, concrete language. Use precise language and cite specific examples to support assertions.
    • Avoid vague references.
  • Re-read what you have written. Ask others to read it to catch things that you’ve missed.

Some of the above material taken from Academic Skills, Trent University and Summarizing a Research Article 1997-2006, University of Washington.

Rubric: Article Summary and Analysis

Summary of the ArticleIdentifies and explains the main argument and the sub-argumentsGives a sense of how the author develops the argument25
Coherence of Presentation and ReadabilityEasy to read and understandUses short illustrative quotes to good effectFlows wellNot marred by writing problems (grammar, vocabulary)

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