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All Jisc projects are in some way providing information, advice, guidance, new tools etc. for the higher and further education sector in the UK. This guide will help you to write a summary of your project in no more than 350 words for a non-specialist (but non-specific) reader in the sector, for example, a senior manager, research director, policy maker, administrator, press officer, academic in a different discipline, funder etc. – that is someone who needs to know whether they should pay attention to your project.

Project planning: Writing a Project Summary

How to write a project summary

All Jisc projects are in some way providing information, advice, guidance, new tools etc. for the Higher and Further Education sector in the UK.  Summarising your project in no more than 350 words allows non-specialist readers in the sector, (for example, a senior manager, research director, policy maker, administrator, funder etc.) to know if your project is of interest to them.

What will the reader want to know about your project?

  • Are you writing about a new project? (project plan) - Say what you hope to find out or achieve.
  • Is your project completed it completed (final report)? - Focus on what you found out and achieved. Which of the outputs or outcomes will the reader want to know about? What seems like a minor output/outcome to you, may be of particular interest to a general reader.

Your first paragraph should capture the essentials about your project:

  • Why the work is important and to whom
  • The problem being addressed
  • The solution i.e. how your project is going to solve (or has solved) the problem. 

It’s good practice to start with what the project will do/has done i.e. the solution, but with many technical projects a sentence or two of context will be required first for the reader to understand the solution and its relevance.

The first paragraph should be no more than three or four sentences long. A good first paragraph can stand alone as an even shorter summary of your project and be useful for many purposes, such as your website or publicity material.

Your summary should not raise important questions.

For example, if your project has reduced the length of time taken to do something, it should state by how much. If you cannot answer this question, say so and outline any plans you have for finding the answer in future.

General tips about good writing

  • Use plain English and avoid acronyms, but expand and explain if you have to use them.
  • Aim for clarity and brevity. Keep to the point.
  • Ask a non-expert to read your summary before you finalise it. Summarising complex information in a few words for a general audience is difficult, especially if you know all the details.