Thompson Rivers University

Summary or Analysis: What’s the Difference?

  Posted on: February 15, 2018

by Chelsea Tuyttens

A lot of students tend to write a summary of a work when their instructor is asking for an analysis. These guidelines should help you avoid making that mistake!

A summary is a brief explanation, an overview, or a short version of something, whether that be an article, book, movie, etc. When writing a summary, you do not provide your opinion or interpretation of the material. You simply provide the reader with a quick review of the main points, events, and facts. A good summary will include the “W’s” – Who, What, Where, and When. A summary will usually be easier to write because you are condensing a longer work into a shorter form.

An analysis, on the other hand, is a detailed examination and evaluation of the points being made by an author. An analysis will often require you to connect a specific piece of work to a larger theory. You express your own opinion and arguments in an analysis, including how well the author explains their ideas, and the strengths and weaknesses of the work. It is possible to have multiple interpretations of an author’s writing, which you can support with your own arguments, and quotes from the author and other sources.

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