A step-by-step guide of how Future Science Group brings its plain language summaries to the page.
For those outside of medicine and academia, journal articles are often difficult to read. These articles tend to be jargon-heavy and full of complicated phrasing. That’s why, in a bid to make scientific and medical research accessible for lay audiences, the leading publisher Future Science Group has launched a new initiative: plain language summaries (PLS).
This means Future Science Group encourages writers to create everyday summaries of technical publications for non-expert readers. The publishing group asks authors to write PLS for inclusion in its journals, regardless of which organisations published the original content.
What Are Plain Language Summaries?
PLS are non-promotional, factual, objective summaries of scientific and medical publications. Writers create PLS using everyday language so readers of all backgrounds can access information about medical and scientific research. PLS complement their original publications without replacing them.
What Is Plain Language?
The International Plain Language Federation defines plain language as wording, structure, and design that are so clear ‘the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information’. However, we should frame our definitions of plain language based on the content’s audience. Material that is plain to one audience may not be plain to another. Therefore, identifying the target audience before writing a PLS is essential.
How Does Future Science Group Publish Plain Language Summaries?
PLS authors need to think about Future Science Group’s publication process before they start writing. First, they must decide who they will write the PLS with. It’s ideal for at least one of the original publication’s authors to work on the content. However, Future Science Group also welcomes patient authors providing they meet the ICMJE authorship criteria.
Planning a Plain Language Summary
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to decide who the target audience will be early in the writing and publication process. This way, authors will be able to identify which information to include and how to best present this information. PLS can include different types of media alongside the text, like infographics, video, and audio. It’s important to make this decision early because the types of media included dictate the cost of producing the PLS. Future Science Group welcomes pre-submission enquiries if writers have questions about this.
Before writing the PLS, authors should seek approval from the publisher of the original article on which the summary is based. They should also send a pre-submission enquiry to the target Future Science Group journal to check whether the PLS will be suitable for that journal. If so, authors should ask the journal editor for a copy of the PLS author guidelines.
Writing the Plain Language Summary
During the writing process, authors may find it useful to make the most of Future Science Group’s free author guidelines. These are available to any author who requests them. Some authors also use Future Science Group’s dedicated writing service[CM3] to help them. This team of expert writers can help authors draw up a framework for the plain language summary (based on the original publication), get permission to publish the PLS from the original publisher if necessary, write the content using everyday language, include all relevant information, convey this information clearly, and source media to highlight key points.
Once the authors have written their PLS, they should carry out a readability review to make sure a lay audience can understand the content. Then, they should submit the PLS with all supplementary forms, like author disclosure and open access forms.
Reviewing the Plain Language Summary
At this point, Future Science Group will put the PLS through its full peer-review process. This process involves both patient and plain language experts reviewing the PLS. These professionals will provide feedback for the authors.
When the authors receive their feedback, they should make changes to the content. Following acceptance of the re-drafted PLS, the journal production team will work with the authors to approve the final formatted version of the PLS and include any graphics or other media. Future Science Group’s PLS follow a set template, but authors can use non-traditional graphics to convey key data where necessary.
Publishing the Plain Language Summary
The PLS is then ready for publication. All PLS are assigned with digital object identifier (DOI) numbers, meaning the published PLS can be cited. Future Science Group publishes PLS as open access content under a CC-BY-ND license across its online journals (and sometimes in print). This ensures anyone can read and share the PLS.
To make PLS as accessible as possible, Future Science Group journals also post PLS on their social media platforms, share PLS with relevant patient organisations, tag PLS and patient authors to make them easy to find on indexing sites.
Why Publish Plain Language Summaries With Future Science Group?
Publishing PLS will help you expand the reach of your research to a wider audience, including patients, patient advocates, healthcare policy experts, non-specialist healthcare professionals, journalists, and the wider public. This in turn fosters transparency and trust, helping to increase the accessibility of medical and scientific research and promote inclusivity.
About Future Science Group
Future Science Group publishes PLS alongside a wealth of academic print and digital resources for scientific and medical communities. These publications spotlight developments in medical sectors that span from oncology to regenerative medicine to nanomedicine. The group includes PLS in its 34 peer-reviewed journals to make technical information as easy to consume as possible.
Readers can find these journals on Future Science Group’s Future Science and Future Medicine websites. Future Medicine journals explore clinical and translational medicine and biosciences. Meanwhile, Future Science journals examine applied science and intellectual property issues in research and development.
Future Science Group also runs various events, digital hubs, creative services, and publishing solutions. Some of the group’s journals partner with the digital hubs, which have grown from eCommunities to cornerstones of the publishing group. Together, Future Science Group’s platforms and initiatives provide the space communities need to share knowledge, collaborate, innovate, and translate medical and scientific research.