Summarizing a Written Rhetorical Text
Purpose of the assignment: To summarize an op-ed or argumentative article.
Procedure: Choose a well-established news source. Select an op-ed piece or argumentative article from within the last eight weeks. Important: Do not select a straight news article or one that appears mostly informative. (How do you tell the difference? See below.) You will be analyzing the argument of the article you select in Week 3.
Write a 150- to 250-word summary of the article. Your summary should include an overview of the article’s purpose and enough information that someone who has not read the article would have a clear and concise understanding of what the piece is about. You will have to make some choices about what reasons, details, and examples to include in your summary. However, your goal is to represent the gist of the article as clearly and accurately as possible. Do not include your opinion of the article or its topic. Do not editorialize (“This is a well-written article”).
Your summary must adhere to the following guidelines:
· Introduce the source by title and author within the first few sentences of your summary.
· Include a few direct quotations.
· All quotations and paraphrases must be cited in APA Style.
· Write in third person. Do not refer to yourself in the summary.
· Include an APA-Style References page.
· Proofread carefully so your summary contains few or no mechanical errors.
Format: One paragraph (two, at most), with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
Format the assignment in APA Style: one-inch margins, page numbers at the top right, and title page. See the Sample APA Paper in the Guides to Writing, Research and APA Style: https://content.grantham.edu/academics/01_Instructional_Designers/KeepingScore_APA_Example.pdf
Submitting the assignment: Attach your essay as a single file Word document or .pdf file and submit to the W2 assignment drop box.
Is it News or is it an Argument?
A common mistake students make in this assignment is selecting a news article to summarize instead of an argument or opinion piece. It’s important to distinguish between two types of writing: informative and argument. Even if an article addresses a controversial topic, such as gun control, the author may not take a position. He or she may be reporting on recent developments of a particular piece of legislation or on what a political figure has said. In general, an article in a news source does one or the other–report or argue–not both.
How do you tell the difference between arguing and reporting? Sometimes the title of the article can give away the author’s claim. One article selected by a student for this assignment contains this title: “Health Care is a Human Right. It’s Time for a Public Option” (Schneider, 2019). That’s a clear statement of the author’s point of view.
Another way is to look for a thesis statement—one or two sentences which clearly express a point of view. At the end of the same article, we find these words: “A public option will bolster competition, help control skyrocketing costs, and give patients more choices. It is time for action.” (Schneider, 2019, para. 7). These sentences crystallize the point of view—what the author is trying to convince you, the reader, to agree with. (Usually, a thesis statement is found at the end of the introduction, but sometimes it can be found later. In most essays, however, the conclusion reaffirms the author’s main point.)
If you have trouble finding the author’s point of view—or if positions are expressed solely by people interviewed in the article (not by the author)—you probably have a news report instead of an argument.
Schneider, B. (2019, August 22). Health care is a human right. It’s time for a public option. The Daily Herald. Retrieved from https://www.dailyherald.com/discuss/20190822/health-care-is-a-human-right-its-time-for-a-public-option