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