You are asked to read the assigned article (included herein) and prepare a 120-word abstract (worth 2 marks) that summarizes the article; plus a 250- to 350-word commentary (worth 8 marks; 1-2 pages, with 2 or 3 supporting references) on the article’s main points (that is, do you agree or disagree; why or why not?) Be careful of your word count because your graders will deduct marks if you go sizeably over the limit. As a key to what your graders will be looking for, I have also attached two grading rubrics — one deals more with grading and the other with presentation and style. These same rubrics will be provided to you when you mark your assigned abstract/commentaries. Hang onto this article; it will be testable.
So what is an abstract? An abstract is a summary of an author’s main points or ideas, contained in a single paragraph. Preparation of an abstract does not invite your view or opinion on the topic, but those soley of the author. So too, no quotes are permitted within an abstract — it is fully paraphrased! Essentially then, your abstract includes an opening sentence, a concluding sentence, and the main ideas in between. Abstracts are found as the lead component in many literary and scientific documents, from the sciences to government to even gaming manuals. You are not to use outside sources of any kind; simply refer to the article itself. To render your abstract anonymous, you are not to include any identifying information (i.e., name, student number) in the abstract itself; those get included in relevant fields when you upload your abstract to the website.
So what is a commentary? A commentary asks you to explain and support your opinion on a given topic of discussion. Unlike an abstract, you are required to consider your own opinion on the topic. You can agree with the author’s opinion, so your commentary will advance those arguments, support existing points, and offer new ideas (with useful references). Alternatively, you can disagree with the author’s opinion; therein you will need to address the author’s points and explain (with proper references) why you disagree. Quotes are permitted in the commentary, but they should be short and rare (no more than 2, 15-20 words each). In short, you should try throughout your commentary to use your own words and paraphrase, paraphrase, paraphrase. As a note about formatting, although this is an APA submission, I will be requiring neither a title page nor running head.
Three notes about references: These are to appear both within and at the conclusion of your commentary: (1) you can see how references are written in the back of your text, as well as the PowerPoints provided by the Academic Writing Centre (found online on our CLEW site), (2) only credible sources may be cited (these may come from journals, newspapers, internet; but there are no marks for Wikipedia sources), and (3) references do NOT factor into your word count. Here are two examples (journal and website), note the commas and periods, italics, parentheses:
Journal: Graziano, M. S., Hu, X. T., & Gross, C. G. (1997). Coding the locations of objects in the dark. Science, 277, 239-240.
So to break this down… Graziano, Hu, and Gross are the authors of the journal article (published in 1997) in the journal Science, volume 277, pages 239 to 240. The journal and volume are generally italicized, though this may not come through on your upload.
Website: Chen, X. M., Ender, P., Mitchell, M., & Wells, C. (2003). Regression with SPSS. Retrieved August 29, 2009 from http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/spss/webbooks/reg/default.htm
So to break this down: Chen, Ender, Mitchell, and Wells are the authors of a webpage from 2003; the title is generally italicized, though again this may not come through on your upload; indicate both the date of retrieval and website address.
Here is the reference for the main article: include it in your references, along with 2 or 3 additional ones (outside of the original article):
Loftus, E. F. (2011). Crimes of memory: False memories and societal justice. In M. A. Gernsbacher, R. W. Pew, L. M. Hough, and J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.) Psychology and the real world (pp. 83-88). NY: Worth.