The Writing Center

Synopses Checklist

A synopsis may be a short assignment, but it is dense.  This checklist will assure you that you’ve completed the steps to the full assignment and will prepare you to write. 

Your Role as a Writer
Think of yourself as giving a grand gesture here—it’s as if you were giving a broad overview and the highpoints of an important athletic event or a new play that came into town.  You would want to give the important players along with strategy and then analyze how the game or play was performed.  If you view yourself as this observer who wants to give a broad overview and the high points, then you will avoid writing too little, which is what a brief assignment can suggest.

Full Citation in the Text

Have you cited the full name(s) of the author(s) in your first paragraph, along with the journal title underlined (or in italics) and the year of publication? 

The Article’s Main Ideas

Early in your synopsis, give the main ideas of the article.

The Audience the Article Will Benefit

Who would benefit from reading this article?  Tell why briefly and the overall social importance.

Methods Used

Describe how the researchers got the information they share.  Speculate on how valid this information is; that is, do you think the number of subjects is reasonable if the article is experimental?  If the article is theoretical, do you think the theory does a decent job of explaining the phenomenon described?  Does it leave anything out? 

Your Opinion

After you’ve covered all your bases, your own opinion of the value and the lasting power of this article would be welcome if it’s given in 2-3 sentences.