Writing a Summary Paper for Trinity Modules
Rev. Nancy L. Egan, M.S. (DMin Student)
Dear Dr. Philip:
In response to your request to send you information on how I write my Summary Papers for the Trinity Modules I am studying in the D.Min. Program, please find listed below the steps I take, that have been effective so far:
1. Before reading the Module, I ask the Lord to open my eyes to the Truth of the information I am about to study, and, to help me to grasp those things He desires for me to know and retain.
2. Next, I read the Module through very quickly to get an idea of the subject matter contained in the Module, noting the main points of the Module by circling the word/phrase in colored ink or writing the information in the margins.
3. Having a general understanding of what the author wants to teach us, I start researching the main topics and points the author talks about in the Module. This may be the main topic of the paper, sub-topics the author mentions, people the author mentions or quotes in the paper, etc. The more variety of resources, the better. I try to find at least six or more outside sources to quote in my paper. I’ve used up to ten different resources, when the Module is longer than most. The resources I use most often are: * books from my own library; * the Internet; * study Bibles, such as the Ryrie Study Bible (NAS Version), The Soul Care Bible (NKJV), the New Scofield Reference Bible (KJV), and others; * current newspapers and magazines; * television interviews; * previous Modules.
4. After gathering my support documentation, I then read the Module through carefully, underlining or highlighting those points that I think are key to summarize in my paper. I use the same process in reading the additional resource material.
5. Often, it is suggested that the writer of the Summary Paper make an outline of the key information that he/she wants to use in the paper. I prefer not to make an outline, because my notes in the Module serve as my outline.
6. Before starting to write the Summary Paper, I organize my research material, placing each part of it in the Module, at the point where I am going to quote from that source. I then begin to write.
7. My papers are usually divided into four sections: 1) Introduction; 2) Topic Discussion; 3) Conclusion; 4) Personal Reflection.
8. After writing each section of the paper, I print it out and edit the paper, looking for correct sentence structure, spelling errors, etc. I may choose to add or delete something from that section or change the order of the paragraphs, etc.
9. For the “Personal Reflection” section of the paper, I try to answer the questions necessary for a “critical summary,” i.e., “Does the author succeed in reaching the goal he/she has for writing the article/book/paper/etc.? How, and why, or why not? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the paper? Why? What did the author do well? No well? Why?” (taken from “Writing Center Handouts.” www.columbia.edu). I also reflect on how the Module may have impacted me personally. Perhaps it has made me think of a personal experience or touched some thought or emotion I want to share. Oftentimes, this section of the paper takes me the longest time to write, because I take time to talk with the Lord and listen for His leading.
While there may be dozens of other ways to approach writing a critical summary paper, I hope that my suggestions are helpful in some way to the students of Trinity. Thank-you for giving me an opportunity to share them with my fellow students.