i will upload the template and reading with instructions. A precis is NOT a sentence-by-sentence recap of a source text with some words changed here and there (i.e. a paraphrase). Instead, a precis, or a summary, is a distillation of the key argument of the source text into a condensed, concise, and logical set of short paragraphs. To use a sporting analogy, if I asked you to summarise a football match, I don’t need to know the play-by-play of who passed the ball to whom, or who tackled whom, I just want to know who the teams were, what the final score was, and which team won the match. Identifying this key argument can be challenging, especially in popular science writing, since such writers (such as John Reilly and EO Wilson) tend to bury the argument deep inside a richly woven narrative. There are many ways of identifying the central argument of reading, and one good way is to read through the entire reading from start to finish, then close the reading and write out what you think the key arguments of the reading are in point form, before returning to the reading to check how accurate you were. Another technique I find to be useful is highlighting sections of the text that seem to be important. Fundamentally, a good summary needs to synthesise the author’s core message and discard any unnecessary detail that distracts or detracts from the argument being made. This is why in last week’s reading, all that detail about Huxley being “Darwin’s Bulldog” or his discoveries at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History would not have gained you any marks since they were mostly irrelevant to the key issue of the evolution and biogeography of the ratites.
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