Journals Library

Plain language summary

You should provide a plain language summary of no more than 300 words, so that your work can be accessed and understood by any reader, including members of the general public. This is also in keeping with the NIHR Journals Library’s commitment to accessibility.

In providing this, please note the following:

  • You should follow the same principles and procedures as in writing the plain language summary, that accompanied your funding submission
  • We strongly encourage involving a non-academic member of the public in writing the plain language summary, to ensure the language is appropriate for everyone. Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and practitioner representatives on research teams should always review these summaries
  • Do not cut and paste sentences and phrases from your main paper; a plain language summary needs to be written afresh
  • It should contain only text (no figures or tables)
  • When writing a plain language summary you may wish to consider the following questions: what was the question, what did we do, what did we find, what does this mean?
  • As an example of excellence in this field, please see reports in The Cochrane Library, which have a ‘plain language summary’ in addition to the Abstract, for which the Cochrane Library won an award in 2012

To aid readability, please do not use any abbreviations in your plain language summary. Commonly used abbreviations may be substituted at production stage, the final editorial decision rests with the editorial office. 

Useful links:

Good examples from Journals Library publications: