How to Prepare a Lay Abstract
It’s important to prepare a summary in simple, non-technical language to tell the story of your research.
This summary – known as a ‘lay abstract’ – should be distinct from the scientific one (not copy and paste), no more than 250-300 words.
Why do this?
A lay abstract helps to:
- demonstrate accountability to contributors, funders
- highlight the relevance of research in an accessible, easy-to-read format
- raise awareness about dermatologic research
- increase research participation by potential patients
- explain research to people who don’t have a background in science, or in your research
The CDF requires this capsule summary so that we can profile it on the website to potential sponsors and funders, and to media.
- The first sentence is often all people read, so make it count. Explain what your research aims to achieve, then how you’re going to do it and the context.
- Discuss the applications and benefits, making them relevant to everyday life — as if you were talking to a family member. Provide examples.
- Use active verb tense.
- Keep sentences short, clear and focused.
- Avoid jargon or technical terms. Opt for short, simple words.
- Ask a non-scientist to read it over.
The (UK) Stroke Association’s helpful plain-language guide
|Scientific terms||Simplified phrases|
|Pathway — a series of chemical reactions||Participate in – take part|
|Expression – how genes make products (e.g. proteins) that can be used by cells||Prior to – before|
|Signalling – ways that cells communicate with each other||Discontinue – stop
|Apoptosis – how cells die||In the event of – if|
|Efficacy of X – how well X works||Duration – time|
|End point – something that is measured in a clinical trial and is the trial goal||Inform – tell|
|Mutation – sudden, permanent change in the genetic makeup of a cell||Scheduled to undergo – due to have|
|Drug target – something in the body that is changed by a drug to give a desirable effect||Accordingly, consequently – so|
|Neurons – nerves||With reference to, with regard to – about|
|Probability – how likely X is to happen||If this is the case – if so|
|In the event of – if|
|For the purpose of – to|