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Drafting Plain Language Summaries: 3 Tips to Bear in Mind

Communicate most effectively with a non-scientific audience

Drafting plain language summaries of clinical trial results can be a complicated process for life science professionals.

Scientists and medical writers are trained to publish scientific papers and communicate with peers who share their knowledge, prerequisites, terminology, and communication style. These clinical experts, entrenched within a homogeneous medical academic community that champions shared specialized knowledge, may find it difficult to relate to public perception of their work. That makes adapting highly technical communications to a plain language audience—and thus complying with the new EU regulation—a challenge.

A scientist tasked with communicating effectively with the public must meet three mandates:

1. Understand the target audience by analyzing how a broad, heterogeneous public audience with no presumed knowledge of clinical research or medical terminology can parse scientific content intended for a specialized medical community.

2. Communicate to the appropriate literacy level by ensuring content is adapted to the literacy level of the general population and the clinical trial population in accordance with principles of health literacy and numeracy.

3. Translate summaries into unambiguous local language by using the power of linguistics to produce high-quality translations of master plain language summaries without sacrificing meaning, scientific validity, or
consistency of the source content, or unintentionally using promotional or biased language.

Want to learn more about how to put each of these points into practice? Download our new whitepaper: “Successfully Authoring and Translating Plain Language Summaries” today!

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