A well-written summary explores the key findings of a nursing research paper but also serves as a powerful tool for quick reference and efficient comprehension, bridging the gap between complex research data and everyday nursing practices.

Professionals and students must stay current with the latest research and trends in nursing. However, with the information available, it’s crucial to distill this research into concise, understandable summaries. 

This article will guide you through creating an effective research summary for a nursing paper, helping you communicate your findings clearly and efficiently.

What is a Research Summary, and Why Is It Important?

A research summary is a condensed version of a research paper or article designed to provide the reader with a straightforward understanding of the original research’s aims, methodology, main findings, and conclusions.

It distills the most essential information from a comprehensive research project, often dense with data and complex concepts, into a more accessible format.

This allows individuals to grasp the research’s significant aspects without needing to delve into the full paper, which can be particularly lengthy and detailed.

Why is a research summary important?

  • Time-Efficiency: Healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, face time constraints daily. Research summaries provide quick access to vital information, enabling nurses to understand and apply the latest evidence-based practices without sifting through the entire research document.
  • Knowledge Dissemination: Research summaries aid in the broader dissemination of scientific knowledge. They make it easier to share significant findings with a diverse audience, including those lacking the expertise or interest in reading the full paper. 
  • Decision-Making: Summaries provide evidence for informed decision-making in nursing practice and policy.
  • Education and Advocacy: For nursing students and educators, research summaries serve as educational tools, highlighting the critical elements of studies and sparking discussions. 
  • Basis for Further Research: Summaries highlight what has been discovered and what remains unknown, often outlining suggestions for future research. 
  • Interdisciplinary Communication: In multidisciplinary teams, where members may have varying expertise and backgrounds, research summaries ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the evidence that informs their practice. 

Research summary or Abstract. What’s the Difference?

A research summary is a detailed overview of a research project or paper. It’s intended to present the reader with a condensed version of the entire study, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions.

A well-crafted research summary offers enough detail to understand the significant aspects of the research without having to read the full paper. It is particularly useful for professionals, such as nurses, who must stay informed about current research but may lack the time to read multiple, often lengthy, research papers in full. 

Additionally, research summaries can be standalone documents used for various purposes, such as educational materials, resources for presentations, or as a means of disseminating findings to a broader audience outside of the academic community.

On the other hand, an abstract is a concise summary typically found at the beginning of scholarly articles, thesis papers, or dissertations. An abstract is intended to function as a preview of the research paper, giving readers a brief, informative account of the paper’s contents. It helps readers quickly ascertain the paper’s purpose and decide whether the document is relevant to their interests or research needs. 

Unlike a research summary, an abstract has a strict word limit, often ranging from 150 to 250 words. Research abstracts are also structured in a way that follows the sequence of the paper, briefly mentioning the research question or problem, the methods used, the main results, and the conclusions.

How to Write a Research Summary: The Steps

Writing a research summary requires a clear understanding of the original study’s significant points and the ability to communicate these points concisely and clearly. Here’s a detailed look at the steps involved in crafting an effective research summary:

Skim The Article

Start by skimming the research paper to understand its content and structure. Pay attention to headings, subheadings, and any graphics like charts or tables, as these can provide quick insights into the study’s key components.

This initial skim helps prepare you for deeper reading and offers a framework for understanding the more complex details of the research.

Analyze and Understand the Topic and Article

After skimming, read the article thoroughly. Focus on the research question or hypothesis, the methodology, the results, and the research conclusions. Consider the context of the research and be aware of the study’s primary objectives.

This thorough comprehension is crucial; a summary can only be effective if the writer fully grasps the original work.

Make Notes as you Read

As you delve into the paper, take detailed notes. Highlight or jot down the main points, significant findings, and notable quotes or statistics. These notes will form the backbone of your summary, so ensure they are clear and detailed.

This process involves active reading, prompting you to analyze the content as you go, which in turn aids in a deeper understanding of the material.

Assemble a Draft

With your notes at hand, begin assembling your summary. Start with the objectives or questions, followed by the research methodology, then the results, and finally, the conclusions or recommendations. Ensure you’re paraphrasing the author’s work; while the information should remain the same, the wording should be your own.

Avoid including every detail from the original study; instead, focus on the most significant points that provide a comprehensive overview of the work.

Find Additional Literature

In some cases, especially if the research is part of a larger academic discussion, consulting other related studies or literature might be helpful. This additional context can help ensure your summary is accurate and provide a fuller picture of the research landscape.

Comparing different sources can also help you understand if there are contrasting views or findings in the field.

Research Summary Structure

Understanding the structure of a research summary is crucial for presenting the information in an organized, logical manner. Like the original research paper, your summary should follow a structured format that mirrors the academic work it does.

Here’s an in-depth look at the components typically involved in a research summary structure:

  • Title: The title should be a clear, concise descriptor of the content of your summary. It’s often beneficial to keep the title similar to that of the original research paper to maintain consistency and recognizability. It should give readers an immediate idea of the topic or the findings being summarized.
  • Abstract: While the research summary itself is a form of an abstract, if you’re preparing a longer summary or a standalone document, it might require its own abstract. This would be a very condensed summary of the summary, outlining the primary question, methods, results, and conclusion, all in a very succinct format, usually not exceeding 250 words.
  • Introduction: The introduction section sets the stage for the rest of the summary. It should briefly present the main research question or objective, the importance of the study, and potentially, the hypothesis or the anticipated outcomes. The goal is to provide context for the research and explain why the study was necessary or significant.
  • Methodology: This section gives an outline of how the research was conducted. It should include details about the participants, the study design, the data collection methods, and any analysis techniques. While you don’t need to include every detail from the original study, the summary should provide enough information for readers to understand how the results were obtained.
  • Results section: Here, you present the outcomes of the research. This involves a summary of the data collected and any statistical analysis. It’s essential to focus on the most significant findings that contribute directly to the research question or objective. Use clear, concise language, and consider using visuals like graphs or tables if they help clarify the results.
  • Discussion: In this section, you’ll summarize the researcher’s interpretation of the results. This might include whether the findings were expected, how they compare to previous research, their implications, and their limitations. The discussion section often also addresses the potential for future research.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should briefly restate the most important findings and their relevance. It’s a wrap-up of the summary, highlighting the key takeaways and their implications for the field of study, policy, practice, or future research.
  • References: If your summary references specific data, theories, or texts, you should include a reference section at the end. It’s essential to give credit to the original research paper sources. This provides a resource for readers who may seek to explore the original research or related studies.

Research Summary Writing Tips

Writing a research paper summary involves a balance of brevity, clarity, and accuracy. Here’s a guide on how to enhance your research summary writing:

  • Read the parent paper thoroughly: To write a comprehensive summary, you must understand the research deeply. This understanding can only come from a meticulous reading of the entire paper, including its nuances and finer details. Take the time to digest all aspects of the research, from its purpose and methodology to its results and conclusions.
  • Identify the key elements in different sections: Break the paper down into its fundamental sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion/Conclusion. Identify the main points in each section, focusing on information crucial to the research question or hypothesis, significant findings, and the primary conclusion or recommendation.
  • Prepare the first draft: Once you have all the key elements, start writing your first draft. Begin with a clear and concise title and a brief introduction to the research topic. Then, succinctly summarize the methods, results, and conclusions. Don’t worry about perfecting everything in this draft; the idea is to get all the critical information down.
  • Include visuals: If the research includes significant data, charts, graphs, or other visuals, consider including simplified versions in your summary. Visuals can often convey complex information more efficiently and effectively than text. Ensure they are clear, concise, and accurately represent the research findings.
  • Double-check for plagiarism: Your summary must be written in your own words, even though it conveys the information from the research paper. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. For academic integrity, utilize plagiarism checkers and ensure that your summary is original, save for any direct quotes that should be properly attributed.
  • Religiously follow the word count limit: If your summary has a word limit, it’s essential to adhere to it. This constraint means making tough decisions about what to include and leave out. Every word must earn its place by conveying crucial information or context.
  • Proofread your research summary multiple times: Grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors can detract from the summary’s credibility. Proofread your work several times and, if possible, read it aloud to catch mistakes. This process also includes checking for clarity and coherence.
  • Watch while you write: Be aware of your language and tone. Academic writing should be formal and clear. Avoid using jargon, slang, or colloquial expressions, and ensure that complex information is presented in an accessible manner.
  • Ask a friend/colleague to help: Sometimes, what makes perfect sense to you may confuse someone. Having a friend or colleague read over your summary can provide new insights. They can point out areas needing more clarification and catch errors you may have overlooked.

Nursing Research Summary Example

Title: Effective Strategies for Managing Chronic Pain in Elderly Patients: A Quantitative Study


This study explores the efficacy of a multimodal pain management approach in elderly patients suffering from chronic pain. Over six months, 200 participants aged 65 and over received interventions combining pharmacological treatments with alternative therapies. 

Results indicated a significant reduction in reported pain levels and an improvement in overall quality of life, underscoring the potential benefits of an integrated approach to chronic pain management in elderly patients.


Chronic pain is a prevalent issue among the elderly, often leading to reduced mobility, psychological distress, and decreased quality of life. Traditional pain management strategies are not always effective in this demographic, necessitating innovative approaches. 

This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a multimodal pain management program, combining pharmacological treatments with alternative therapies, for elderly patients with chronic pain.


A quantitative research approach was employed, with 200 participants aged 65 and older, all experiencing chronic pain, recruited from various nursing homes. 

The study spanned six months, during which time participants received personalized care plans that included medication alongside at least one of the following: physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or acupuncture. 

Pain levels were assessed monthly using the Visual Analog Scale (VAS), while quality of life was evaluated using the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36).


Participants reported an average 30% reduction in VAS scores across the board, indicating lessened pain perception. Furthermore, there was a marked improvement in SF-36 scores, with particular emphasis on enhanced physical functioning and emotional well-being. 

The most significant improvements were noted in participants who received a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.


The study’s findings suggest that a multimodal approach to managing chronic pain in elderly patients can be more effective than traditional, medication-only strategies. 

The improvements in both pain perception and quality of life scores highlight the potential benefits of integrating alternative therapies into pain management plans for the elderly. 

However, the study is limited by its duration and the diversity of interventions; further research is needed to ascertain the long-term effects and identify the most effective combinations of therapies.


This research underscores the potential efficacy of a comprehensive, multimodal approach to chronic pain management in elderly individuals. While further studies are required, the significant reductions in pain levels and enhancements in quality of life indicate that such an approach could be integral in geriatric nursing care practices.


(Here, you would list the original research paper's references and any additional sources consulted during your summary preparation.)

Why Write An Effective Summary For A Research Paper?

Writing an effective summary for a research paper is vital as it provides a concise, accessible version of the main content, allowing readers to quickly glean the essential findings and significance of the research without wading through the entire document. 

This practice not only aids in disseminating knowledge to a broader audience, potentially spurring further research or real-world applications, but also helps authors clarify their own understanding of their findings, ensuring they effectively communicate their work.

What Are The Main Elements Of An Effective Summary For Research Papers?

The main elements of an effective summary for research papers revolve around conciseness, clarity, and completeness.

  • Clear, Concise Title: The title should accurately reflect the content and main findings of the research, enabling readers to identify the topic and purpose of the study at a glance.
  • Objective and Context: The summary should clearly state the research question or problem the study addresses, including background information or context necessary to understand the study’s purpose.
  • Methodology: A brief description of the methods used for the research is crucial, informing the reader about how the study was conducted and how the data was collected.
  • Main Findings or Results: This section should succinctly present the primary outcomes of the research without delving into excessive detail. It’s the core of what readers are interested in knowing.
  • Conclusion: The summary needs to encapsulate the implications of the findings, the answer to the research question, and the potential impacts of the results on the field of study.
  • Recommendations or Future Directions (if applicable): If the paper offers recommendations or suggests areas for future research, these should be briefly stated.
  • Keywords (if applicable): For research papers, especially those published online or in journals, including relevant keywords in the summary can help others find your work during their literature search.

Conclusion on How to Write a Research Paper Summary

Writing an effective research summary is a valuable skill in the nursing field. It facilitates knowledge sharing, promotes evidence-based practices, and can influence healthcare policy and procedures.

By following the guidelines and tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to create summaries that accurately and succinctly convey the critical points of nursing research papers.