Writing Reporting Test

Academic Writing

Reporting – paraphrase, summary and synthesis


1. Paraphrase 1

Read the following text and write a paraphrase – remember to use your own words. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the paraphrase to me.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the words ‘correspondence tuition’ conjured up a method of learning which seemed drab, second-rate and the private pursuit of a small and rather secretive minority. The success of the Open University in Britain has certainly changed all that. Open University course materials are so confidently and attractively designed that they have occasionally even been accused of flashiness. The University’s materials and methods are open to anyone’s inspection – indeed they are also the basis of a brisk and growing export business. The Open University has turned correspondence teaching into a major and thoroughly respectable method of adult learning.

From Jennifer Rogers, Adults learning, 2nd edition. Published by Open University Press in Milton Keynes in 1977, page 172.

2. Paraphrase 2

Go to your library and find an interesting textbook. Choose a useful paragraph and paraphrase the author’s work – remember to use your own words. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the paraphrase to me.

3. Summary 1

Read the following text and summarise Garfinkel’s findings. Remember to use your own words. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the synthesis to me.

Garfinkel once asked some of his students to behave in their own homes as if they were lodgers and to report back the results:

. family members were stupefied. They vigorously sought to make the strange actions intelligible and to restore the situation to normal appearances. Reports were filled with accounts of astonishment, bewilderment, shock, anxiety, embarrassment and anger, and with charges by various family members that the student was mean, inconsiderate, nasty or impolite. Family members demanded explanations: What’s the matter? What has got into you? Did you get fired? Are you sick? What are you being so superior about? Why are you mad? Are you out of your mind or just stupid? One student acutely embarrassed his mother in front of her friend by asking if she minded if he had a snack from the refrigerator ‘Mind if you have a little snack? You’ve been eating little snacks around here for years without asking me. What has got into you?’ One mother, infuriated when her daughter spoke to her only when she was spoken to, began to shriek in angry denunciation of the daughter for her disrespect and insubordination and refused to be calmed by the student’s sister. A father berated his daughter for being insufficiently concerned for the welfare of others and for acting like a spoiled child.

Adapted from H. Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology, 1967, p. 45, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. page 10.

4. Summary 2

Go to your library and find an interesting textbook. Choose a useful text and summarise the author’s work. Remember to use your own words except when quoting. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the summary to me.

5. Synthesis 1

Read the following texts and write a synthesis of about 200 words to answer the following question: What is jazz? Remember to use your own words. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the synthesis to me.

The basic harmonies used in jazz are generally very simple. When complexities do occur, they are usually as a result of an improvised decoration or elaboration of what are basically simple cord patterns. Since any such complexities are improvised, all the notation needs to show is the essential notes of the chords around which the performer is free to improvise.

(Page 62 of The AB guide to music theory. By Eric Taylor. Published by ABRSM Publishing in London.)

Jazz, term used at least from 1914 for a type of American popular music originating among Negroes of New Orleans and taken over also by whites; also used generally for various types of dance music indebted to this (though purists reserve the term for such music as retains the original flavour and the original basis of improvisation). The jazz idiom, characterised by certain syncopations over strongly reiterate rhythms, influenced e.g. Stravinsky, Walton and Milhaud as well as many American composers.

(From page 205 of the New Penguin dictionary of music, written by Arthur Jacobs and published by Penguin in 1958.)

Although only as old as the century, jazz has grown so rapidly and in so many different directions that a newcomer might well feel bewildered. In a mere nine decades, the music has moved from the simple structures and harmonies of its beginnings, through the developing sophistication of the 1920s and 1930s, the complexities of bebop and post-hop in the 1940s and 1950s, outright abstraction in the 1960s, jazz-rock-fusion in the 1970s, and into the pluralism of the post-fusion period. Further confusion is caused by the fact that even when a phase or movement has passed its peak, it is still not over and done with. Virtually all styles and approaches continue to exist simultaneously, and any radical innovation is often accompanied by a reassertion of earlier styles: with the advent of bebop there was also a revival of traditional New Orleans, Chicago and Dixieland jazz, arid with the experimentations of more recent years came a revival of bebop. The very notion of what constitutes jazz is nowadays highly problematic – and doubtless this book will add to the controversy, both by what it omits and by what it includes.

(From page vii of Jazz: The rough guide. It was written by Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestley and published in London by The Rough Guides in 1995.)

6. Synthesis 2

Read the following extracts taken from the Guardian newspaper in March 1996. Using the information given in the articles, discuss the arguments for closer European integration. Remember to use your own words. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the synthesis to me.

The Guardian Wednesday March 27 1996

The cause of closer European union is the cause of democratic reform of the British state, social progress and an effective system of rights and freedoms, writes John Palmer in Brussels

The argument in favour

It is difficult to conceive of a more tragic or revealing metaphor for the isolation of the British government and the suspicion with which it is regarded by its European Union partners than that provided by the BSE crisis.

The shadow of BSE will hang dark over the launch in Turin on Friday of the EU conference to review the Maastricht treaty.

From the moment it joined the European Community in 1973, Britain has all too often found itself out of step with everyone else.

While most other countries end up in a minority within the union’s councils from time to time, Britain has made being a minority a way of life.

The failure of British ministers to consult the EU in advance of the devastating announcement about the possible links between BSE and CJD is regarded as all too typical of the arrogance which London generally displays towards the union.

Attitudes to the British were not always so jaundiced. The rest of the EU was reluctant to write off the Tory government – even under Margaret Thatcher – as irredeemably unwilling to join, the club, let alone as an inveterate wrecker.

The last time a British leader was able to cash in on the dwindling fund of goodwill for Britain was during the Maastricht treaty negotiations in the early 1990s. Then, against their better judgment, the others conceded to Britain “opt outs” from key common policy goals, notably workers’ rights and the single currency.

This attitude of bemused tolerance for British obstruction in the EU is now giving way to a steely determination that the rest of Europe should no longer be sacrificed to the Tory Party’s wars of religion over Europe.

John Major and his colleagues will learn the hard way during the course of the treaty review conference that the rest of the EU would prefer to postpone an agreement than to sign up to one dictated from London.

If this means that Germany’s chancellor, Helmut Kohl. France’s president, Jacques Chirac, and the rest simply have to sit on their hands until the Tories are removed from office, that is what will happen.

Reform of the Maastricht treaty is essential. The original accord is a legal and political mess which sought to mould together contradictory visions of the future. On the one hand, the treaty promised continued evolution towards a decentralised, democratic federation of nation stales: “an ever closer union of the peoples of Europe”.

At its heart this involves maintaining the Commission’s sole tight to make public legislative proposals, accepting greater majority voting in the Council of Ministers, having law-making powers shared more equally between the council and the elected European Parliament and ensuring a system of union-wide law adjudicated by the European Court of Justice.

At the same time, the Maastricht treaty also entrenched a quite different system of “inter-governmental” decision-making. This is legal jargon for the secretive and unaccountable club of nation states which can act collectively in cynical policy areas such as foreign and security affairs, justice, police cooperation and internal security.

The truth is that precious little ever gets decided where unanimity, rather than majority voting, is the rule and where policy making is shaped by the lowest common denominator of national interest.

The consequences of this failure to act can be seen in issues ranging from Bosnia to the treatment of asylum seekers and the fight against unemployment. The intergovernmental club approach also makes a mockery of parliamentary accountability and deepens the already worrying gulf between European decision makers and voters.

Reform of the EU institutions is vital for a second reason. The present system was built for the six founding countries of the EU 40 years ago, and is now stretched to breaking point. But the step by-step expansion of the union to most of central and eastern Europe – as well as Cyprus and Malta – is now only a matter of time.

To try to run a European Union with 30 or more members under the present constitution is to invite paralysis, and possible eventual implosion.

In this context, the real criticism to be made of the process beginning in Turin is that, far from being too ambitions, it will set its sights dangerously low.

As far as the other 14 countries are concerned, the IGC is about the minimum of reforms needed to keep the show on the road until enlargement stakes more radical change unavoidable in a few years’ time.

Neither the commission nor the EU as a whole is seeking powers in new policy areas. What the reformers want is a more effective, democratic and open system of decision-making in those areas where the EU is already responsible.

Displaying a bizarre capacity to abuse the meaning of words; this is described by Tory – and other – Eurosceptics as constructing “a centralised Euro-superstate”.

This kind of talk may still evoke a sympathetic echo in the Home Counties but it is ridiculed in Scotland, in Wales and increasingly in the English regions.

A centralised superstate does exist: it is called the United Kingdom and it is directed not from Brussels but from London.

This is why the cause of closer European union is the cause of democratic reform of the British state – a Bill of Rights, a written constitution, freedom of information laws, electoral reform, and self government for Scotland, Wales and the English regions.

As a growing army of British beneficiaries of EU laws and European Court rulings can testify, the cause of closer European union is also the cause of social reform and an effective system of cross border rights and freedoms.

John Palmer was born in 1938. He joined the Guardian in 1961, where he was the Business Editor, and a leader writer. He has been European Editor in Brussels since 1975. He is the author of two books on Europe: Trading’Places and Europe Without America: The Crisis in Atlantic Relations.

The Guardian Wednesday March 27 1996

Conservative and Labour supporters should make common cause to resist the Commission’s vision of a Euro-superstate created by taking lump-sized bites out of nations, says John Redwood.

The argument against

The European Commission has set out its stall for the intergovernmental conference. The Foreign Office has been telling us that this will be nothing like the embattled sessions of Maastricht – just a 5,000 mile service of the treaty.

Reading the Commission paper, I certainly wouldn’t want them servicing my car if that’s their idea of how to do it. It is not so much a 5,000 mile service they have in mind, more a case of taking our car away and ordering us all on to the European bus. Or, given the enthusiasm for a common foreign and defence policy, perhaps it is about ordering us on to the common European tank.

More attention should be given to these continental documents, as they are likely to have more influence over our lives and politics than most of the things written here.

This particular document is an overwhelmingly ambitious agenda for change. It has a clear vision: the creation of a Euro-superstate. It sets about getting there by taking lump sized bites out of the nation states of Europe. When it was first published, newspapers in Britain picked up the attack upon national vetoes, and then moved on. There is much more to this agenda than saying that practically everything should be settled by qualified majority voting.

The Commission targets Britain, saying that the social chapter opt out is unacceptable. There is to be no “pick and choose Europe”. It does not even offer a pick and choose social chapter of the kind Tony Blair now favours. It proposes strengthening the European Court and making it even more independent of national governments. It wants the president of the Commission to have a role in choosing the other commissioners as if he were a president or prime minister choosing a government.

The Commission sees this conference as doing for foreign policy, defence and home affairs what Maastricht did for monetary policy and economic affairs. At the heart of its ideas lie a common foreign and security policy, common defence procurement and home policy under the EC institutions.

It wants the Schengen arrangements for common borders and frontier controls extended to all EU states. It wants immigration and crime policies brought under EC influence. It wants a proto-foreign minister for Europe to co-ordinate analysis and act as the spokesman for a common European policy. In short, it wants a European state.

So what, some will say. The Commission always wants more power and it would be surprising if it did not advance such an agenda. It is, after all, the servant of the member states. None of these things can come to pass unless all member states want them to.

That is true, but we should remember that this Commission is close to the wishes of the German and French governments. It often seems to be taking dictation from Bonn and Paris. Much of what the Commission has set out can also be found in the speeches and comments of the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl. That is why we should take this seriously, and why we should offer an alternative.

Some socialists will say they welcome the idea that Britain could be forced to accept the social chapter and other elements of the solidarity package coming from Brussels. As a result, they may even think that accepting further big moves towards a Euro- superstate would be a good idea.

They should remember that not all common policies devised by the Commission will be equally in their favour. If Brussels does not wish to pro, toot birds front slaughter or farm animals from unsatisfactory treatment, that same union can or could stop us from doing anything about it ourselves. That same union may force socialist governments in the EC to adopt market policies in some areas that they do not like.

There should be common cause between many Conservatives and Labour supporters in Britain to keep our right to make our own decisions in our own, democratic way.

Britain’s alternative vision is of a Europe of nations. We want a partnership, common action where it makes sense and is freely entered into, along with trade to increase our prosperity.

We do not need new defence arrangements. We have what we need through Nato. It would be quite wrong for the EU to force its four neutral members to arm themselves more and join a defence union.

We do not need new frontier arrangements. Britain as an island and Greece with no common land frontiers with the rest of the EU should not have to join a continental system of border controls meaning more internal polio surveillance in a vain attempt to make up for the lack of action at frontiers.

The last thing we need is beefed up Supreme Court of Europe overturning more acts of Parliament and instructing us how to compensate Spanish fishermen.

In place of this, we need to offer a vision based on the new technology of the Internet and the global market place. Only by welcoming this explosion of computing power and understanding its meaning for the economy, polities and our society, can we offer people jobs and prosperity.

The technology points to much more individual, family and local decision-making and less centralised government.

It points to people counting more, not less. The Commisssion’s vision, based on the Franco-German plan, is old fashioned, backward looking and damaging. It seeks ever more central power in Brussels and Frankfurt, when we should be questioning even the extent of centralised power in London, and finding more ways to return it to the people.

John Redwood was born in 1951. He has been a Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987 and has played a leading role in setting out European issues to Parliament and the wider public. In the last year he has published on the subject of the single currency and put forward proposals for the intergovernmental conference.

7. Synthesis 3

Go to your library and find two or three textbooks or articles on the same subject. Choose 3 relevant texts and write a synthesis of the information contained in them. Remember to use your own words. Show your answers to someone. If you are in one of my classes, e-mail the synthesis to me.

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