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Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 577–579 | Cite as

Lay Abstracts and Summaries: Writing Advice for Scientists

  • Catherine E. DubéEmail author
  • Kate L. Lapane
Article

Abstract

Scientific journals, institutional review boards, and funding sources often require abstracts or research summaries written specifically for the lay public. Making research findings understandable to the public helps raise awareness and speed adoption of practices that may lead to improved health. We provide advice on writing lay abstracts and summaries which includes the following: (1) make reasonable assumptions about grade-level, vocabulary, prior experience, and interests of the audience; (2) practice a verbal explanation with someone from your audience; (3) start writing by using a simple headline followed by a brief and relevant synopsis in common language then expand; (4) read your draft aloud and revise; (5) check readability statistics and simplify as needed; and (6) have both lay audience and peer scientists read your summary to assure that it is accessible to the public while remaining true to the science.

Keywords

Scientific writing Proposal development Research dissemination 

References

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    National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2013) Research grants, online application. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/ms-clinical-care-network/researchers/get-funding/research-grants/index.aspx Accessed 1 Oct 2013
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    Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (2012) Application guidelines, page 20. http://pcori.org/assets/PFAguidelines.pdf Accessed 1 Oct 2013
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    Reproductive BioMedicine Online (2013) Online submission and editorial system. http://ees.elsevier.com/rbmo/ Accessed 1 Oct 2013
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    Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) (2013) Manuscript preparation. http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/jnci/for_authors/ms_prep.html Accessed 1 Oct 2013

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, School of Public HealthBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Clinical and Population Research Program, Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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