Michael Cochez

Assistant Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Summarize a research article (individual)


The goal of this task is to get familiar with reading scientific research papers. Further, you should learn to summarize the research findings.


First, you need to select an article which you want to summarize. You can choose the article freely, but the topic of the article should be related to this course. So, articles in which algorithms or architectures designed for large datasets are used or designed will most of the times be a good choice. Further, the content of the article should not be a) too trivial, b) too hard, or c) already completely handled in the course. Confirm with the teacher that the article you choose is suitable for the task.

Some sources:


Summarize the article, i.e. rewrite the content of the article shorter and in your own words.

It is hard to give detailed guidelines for writing the summary, because it depends on the original article. In general, it should at least answer the following questions:

  • What is the problem? What is the research question?
  • How is this article different from previous ones (without giving all details about past research)
  • What is the proposed solution?
  • How is the solution evaluated?
  • Where can this solution be applied?
  • What would the next steps be?

You are allowed to add a final (short) section with your own opinion and comments about the article, clearly mark it as such.

Submission format and deadline

You can choose whether the final version of your summary is a PDF or a LaTeX source file (LaTeX is commonly used for writing scientific work in the exact sciences and computer science.). The length of the compiled file should not exceed 2 pages. This can be extended on individual basis, depending on the article chosen.

All submissions have to be done using a git repository, you are advised to also put your work in progress on the version control system.

As mentioned in class, the final deadline for this task is the end of January. However, students who need to get the course graded during this semester should inform me that the final version is in the repository before December ?? (most likely this will be 18 for exchange students - still to be confirmed).


  • Writing a summary is not
    • taking the original article and removing some text from it.
    • transcribing the abstract of an article. The abstract of the article is not the same as a summary. It usually only contains a very general description of the problem and the results of the article.
  • Avoid taking long literal quotes.
  • Generalize the possible experiments performed, only include essential examples. You can also include your own example, if you think it is better or clearer.
  • Since this is a summary of a scientific article, you should try to use academic language.

  • Do not assume your reader is an expert in the field.
  • Do not assume your reader is stupid. In other words, do not go into details of things which are obvious.

  • Many on-line sources giving hints on writing research paper summaries are targeted at soft sciences. The structure of the articles are slightly different and hence the summaries as well. One prominent difference is that social science articles have a strong focus on the research methodology, while your article might just have no concrete information about the research methodology whatsoever.
  • There are some further considerations in the sections UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF A SUMMARY and UNDERSTANDING THE CONTENT OF A SUMMARY of feedbackSWA1.pdf ( a feedback given by James H. Faghmous from the University of Minnesota).