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At a minimum, the précis should include the topic or main thesis, the purpose of the research, what was studied, what methods were used, what results (or insight) were gained, and a conclusion.

This guide provides tips and includes links to two sample papers, one on fetal protection policies and the other on James L. Goals of the Précis Compress and clarify a lengthy passage, article, or book, while retaining important concepts, key words, and important data.

Remove what is superfluous and retain the core essence of the work.

Give a brief description of key terms Give a brief description of methods ­ an idea of the general approach used by the researchers. Sample Précis "Fetal Protection Policies and the Cultural Mandate for Job Segregation by Gender" "James L.

(Clue: Once you have assimilated the article through the illustrations and examples the writer uses to make his/her abstract ideas concrete, you do not have to include these in your precis! Here is a central rule: Do not copy a single sentence from the article!

You may use key words and phrases only when you are expressing ideas which are technically precise or when you feel comfortable using the writer's own words, i.e., you understand exactly he or she means, and there is really no better way to express the concept.

Finally, in order to complete this assignment, you will have to read the work most carefully, ask questions about the work repeatedly, and reach into your own experiences so that you can shape most cogently the writer's concepts! When you have completed it well, you will never, never forget the argument, the examples, and the development of the article.


In order to demonstrate that you have assimilated the central argument and proof of another scholar's critical interpretation, you must be able to summarize and even compose a precis of an argument.

A summary or a precis is NOT a personal interpretation of a work or an expression of your opinion of the idea; it is, rather, an exact replica in miniature of the work, often reduced to one-quarter to one-fifth of its size, in which you express the complete argument! First, you must understand the complete work so that you can abstract the central argument and express it cogently and completely. Write a precis of the article in which you state the entire argument and present the logical progression (the development) of the argument. Reduce the article to one-fifth to one-quarter of its original length and omit nothing from the essential argument.

by Constance De Vereaux A well-written précis should be a serviceable substitute for the original work.

The goal is to preserve the core essence of the work in a manner that is both clear and concise.

State the purpose of the research or piece of writing (why was it important to conduct this research or write on this topic? Sundquist, Constitutional Reform and Effective Government" Claremont Graduate School Writing the Precis As serious academic writers, you will have to read and remember large amounts of prose (and poetry) along with scientific and social-studies articles as well.

) When finished, the précis should clearly state: This is what was studied (argued, discussed). In many of your college courses, you are probably able to memorize facts and key statements with relative ease, but in English courses and others which also require close, critical reading, you are asked to go a step further, i.e., to present the informing argument of, let's say, an article and to reproduce the logical development of the argument in as cogent a form as possible in your own words.


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