Writing A Research Paper Executive Summary In 5 Simple Steps

The executive summary for a research paper is usually a much shorter but thorough overview of the larger work. Similar to an abstract it provides the key points of a study but goes on further in that it provides recommendations based on that study. Here are five simple steps for writing an excellent research paper executive summary:

  • Step 1) Who are you writing it for?
  • Chances are you are submitting this directly to your professor for a grade, but most often in real life executive summaries are attached to research studies to present to an audience that might be unfamiliar with the topic. It presents in clear and simple language what the following research paper is about and provides them with an idea of whether it is something they are interested in learning about.

  • Step 2) Summarize and synthesize.
  • You’ve heard this over and over again, most likely when learning about how to write effective conclusions. Summary and synthesis is extremely important in executive summaries. You should bring up all of your main discussion points and show the reader how they relate to one another in terms of the work you have conducted. Don’t assume this will be plain or obvious; make the connections so the reader completely understands your logic.

  • Step 3) What are your intended goals?
  • A section of your executive summary should be devoted to stating your intended goals and the ways in which they were accomplished. In many cases, students feel that stating a thesis or hypothesis that was proven wrong is a form of failure. This is far from true. Your research study should explore new fields and sometimes that means not quite achieving what you originally set out to do.

  • Step 4) Edit and proofread the writing.
  • Executive summaries are usually about 400 words long, so you don’t have a lot of room to use complex sentences or longer, academic sounding words. Edit for clarity; choose direct English and use simple sentence structures. Opt for the most precise word, no matter how plain it might seem. The main job is to provide the reader with an immediate understanding of your study. Make sure your English is flawless.

  • Step 5) Have your work critiqued.
  • Finally, give your executive summary to someone outside of your field to read and critique your work. This is extremely important because it should be written as clearly and directly as possible so that a non-technical person can read and understand. If the persons can successfully explain the main points you discuss in your research paper, then you have succeeded in writing a great summary.


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