Journals Library

Summary style final report guidance

The summary style final report format is as follows:

The synopsis

The total word count for the synopsis may vary depending on your research but it should be a maximum of 15,000 words (authors will be asked to reduce their word count where it exceeds this) and consist of numbered sub-sections – not chapters. It should only describe the research supported by the programme.

 The synopsis is the core of the report; it must summarise what you did and what you found out.   It should succinctly ‘tell the story’ of the work undertaken as a result of the programme grant – its development, key findings, successes, challenges, recommendations for future research and conclusions.  As such, it should provide an accessible synthesis of the entire programme showing clearly how each element relates to and, where appropriate, builds on another. It should be possible to read and make sense of the synopsis as a stand-alone document without referring to other information.

The synopsis needs to include:

  • A Research Pathway Diagram of the stages and development of the interconnecting work packages that contribute to the whole programme. Good examples of the type of suggested diagram can be found here:

  • A summary of any alterations to the programme's original aims/design. By the nature of PGfAR, it is common that there are changes between the original proposal and the work actually done. If there have been any substantive changes, please address these specifically and include the scientific justification, plus evidence that these changes were approved by the programme steering committee, the funder, and, if appropriate, the relevant research ethics committee.
  • A short sub-section for each work package, briefly summarising its research aims, methods for data collection and analysis, limitations, key findings, and its interrelationship with the other parts of the Programme. Summary tables, boxes or figures should be included only if they help to ensure that key points in the synopsis are clear. More detailed information (e.g. protocols, tools, details of interventions, consent processes, and detailed figures, boxes and tables) should be presented as appendices rather than breaking the flow of the text in the synopsis. Please use DOI or URL links in each of the sub-sections to direct readers to relevant papers you have published. If part(s) of your programme do not have a published paper, please append a brief summary of this work so readers have a complete view of the work undertaken during the programme (see appendices below). Please refer to the appendices from the synopsis, where relevant.
  • An account/discussion of the involvement of patients and/or the public.
  • Reflections on what was and what was not successful in the programme.
  • Limitations relating to the method or execution of the research.
  • Conclusions from the whole programme.
  • Recommendations for future research.  You are encouraged to make some general observations about the wider field of research as well as specific recommendations, and there should be a balance between the two.
  • Implications for practice and any lessons learned. For further guidance, please see Implication for decision makers.

Publications list

You should list publications (e.g. articles, letters, conference abstracts, blogs etc. related to the programme) in a separate section of the report, before the references, to show the breadth of impact of the work.

A persistent identifier (PID) or long-lasting reference to the object, such as a digital object identifier (DOI) should be added to this list wherever possible.  In the absence of a DOI a URL is acceptable.


The NIHR Journals Library is an Open Access publication and any content used or linked to will need to have the same open access or appropriate permissions (See

The appendices will be an important part of your final report containing a full description of methods, tools, details of interventions and outcomes.

If you are unable to link electronically from the synopsis to necessary Open Access papers these should be provided in your appendices once relevant copyright permissions have been obtained.

Details of any part of the project that is not already published, or unlikely to publish should be reported concisely in an original appendix.  Each appendix of this type should take the form of a 2000 word summary of the relevant work.  Draft papers will no longer be accepted as appendices.

All appendices should be referred to in the main body of the report. 

Points to consider about articles used to support your synopsis: 

  • Be selective about the use of articles as links/appendices, avoiding linking to articles of similar content, and ensure that the publications chosen as links provide appropriate content that best describe the research undertaken.
  • PGfAR reports will rely on published papers to give a completely detailed account of the research, so it is important that readers have access to all the information they need. You will need to establish that links from your report to other peer reviewed journals provide open access to the published journal article. Access via subscription or through an institution’s OVID/Athens gateway is not acceptable. You should consider whether there is another suitable ‘open’ source that would provide the detail for the particular section of the synopsis.
  • If your only option is to reproduce a whole article as your appendix, you will need to confirm with the article publisher that this is acceptable. You may require copyright permission to do so.
  • If you have placed a proof copy of your article in your institution’s repository and the document is available as an open access item, you may wish to use this as your link if the published article is only available through journal subscription or pay per view.
    All of the main results of the study must be provided for review when the report is submitted.
    To re-emphasise, ultimately, your PGfAR report should bring together all of the strands of the programme in a single place, such that the final report, as a whole, is greater than the sum of the individual parts. It will also act as an archive for the whole research programme.