- Forename(s) and surnames of authors (see Authorship section below)
- Author affiliations: department, institution, city, state, country
- ORCID number(s) for all authors whenever available
Abstract 300 words
Plain Language Summary (optional)
Academic articles are generally written in a specific manner and aimed at communities of experts. It can be extremely difficult for lay audiences or people not familiar with the field of study to understand those articles.
One way to bridge the gap between providing open access to knowledge and improving its understanding is to provide an easily understandable, stand-alone plain language summary alongside the published research article. As Professor Sir Mark Walport said “Science is for everyone. It’s not just to be shared within a small, closed community. We are in the middle of an information revolution, which has been made possible by Open Access and electronic publications. Plain-English summaries are the way of the future” (Keynote speech, Access to Understanding competition awards ceremony 2014).
Not only it is useful for researchers to write plain language summaries of their articles to make them accessible to a wider audience but they can also make research accessible to professionals in nearby disciplines. Crucially, plain language summaries are beneficial to improve public engagement with science and medical research. By helping the public to understand biomedical research, researchers can contribute to raising awareness of its value and attracting further public support and involvement. Plain language summaries can help connect researchers with those, who are directly and indirectly impacted by the outcomes of the research thereby helping scientists understand the needs of patients, carers, health professionals, and other members of the public. In turn, better understanding of biomedical research can inform future research directions and funding priorities as well as increase recruitment to clinical trials.
As an author, promoting your work in an engaging way to a wider audience can help you:
- Attract more readers
- Potentially increase the number of citations to your articles
- Get noticed
- Build a strong reputation
- Connect with patients, carers, politicians, policy-makers and other decision-makers
- Attract more funding opportunities
- Expand your professional network
For the reasons described above, we now require all authors of accepted research articles, reviews, clinical trials, protocols and methodologies to write a plain language summary to be published with their article. The plain language summary should have between 150 and 250 words, be written in plain English, and be placed after the Abstract and before the Introduction. The plain language summary should be distinct from the abstract and should be written in an accessible, interesting way without spinning or exaggerating the story.
- The plain language summary should not be a “dumbed down” version of your work. You must not treat your audience as stupid or patronise the reader.
- Provide answers to the questions: Why was the study done, What did the researchers do and find, What do these results mean?
- Communicate the facts in an interesting way and put them in the appropriate context.
- Use short, clear sentences broken up into paragraphs for readability. You may use bullet points.
- Use the active voice rather than the passive voice (for example, “Dr Smith’s team report several improvements” rather than “Several improvements were reported by Dr Smith’s team”).
- Avoid jargon, complex grammatical structures or abbreviations. You should use everyday English words rather than complex words. If you need to use a technical term or abbreviation, please explain it the first time you use it.
- Phrase sentences in a positive manner rather than negatively.
- Use person-centred language rather than focussing on the condition/illness or disability.
- Ask someone, who doesn’t have any knowledge of the subject, to read your plain language summary and provide feedback. They should find it interesting and they should be able to understand what your study was, what the conclusions are and what the impact of the research may be.
For further information on how to write about biomedical and health research in plain English, please read the Access to Understanding Writing Guidance or the INVOLVE Plain English Summaries resource from the National Institute for Health Research.
Running header (shortened title)
Name, physical address, phone, fax, email
Material and Methods
Abbreviations (if any)
Ethics approval and informed consent
Manuscripts reporting studies on human subjects, human data or tissue, or animals should include a statement on ethics approval and consent when humans are involved. Please include the name of the committee that approved the study and reference number if appropriate. Please see our editorial policies for more information.
Consent for publication
In cases where details, images, or videos relating to individual participants are included in the manuscript, authors should have obtained written informed consent to publish the details from the participant or parent/guardian. Authors should add a statement to this effect here. Authors should be able to provide such signed consent if required by the Editor.
Data availability (where applicable)
Please include a statement about where data supporting the results reported in the manuscript can be found and about data sharing including, where applicable, links to the publicly archived datasets. The statement of data availability should explain which additional unpublished data from the study, if any, are available, to whom, and how these can be obtained. In cases where authors do not wish to share their data or are unable to do so, they should state that data will not be shared and the reasons why. Please refer to our editorial policies for further information.
Please declare all the sources of funding including financial support. Please describe the role of the sponsor(s), if any, in any of the stages from study design to submission of the paper for publication. Please state if the sponsor(s) had no such involvement.
Your relationship with other people or organisations may influence the way you interpret data or present the information your study demonstrated. This is known as a competing interest.
For transparency, authors are required to complete a declaration of competing interests.
The author(s) of a paper submitted to any Dove Medical Press journal are required to complete a declaration of competing interest for any commercial associations or financial interests held by the author or immediate members of the author's family, which might be construed as posing a conflict of interest, including but not limited to consultancies, employment, expert testimony, honoraria, retainers, stock holdings or options, and membership on boards of for-profit organizations with a financial interest in the paper. All competing interests will be listed in the declarations at the end of the article.
Please consider the following questions when completing your competing interest declaration:
- Financial competing interests
In the past three years have you received any funding from an organization that may have a financial interest in the manuscript? If so, please specify.
Do you hold any stock holdings or options in an organization that may have financial interest in the publication of this manuscript? If so, please specify.
Does the content of the manuscript relate to any patents you hold or are you currently applying for? If so, please specify.
Have you received any funding or salary from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript? If so, please specify.
Do you have any other financial competing interests? If so, please specify.
- Non-financial competing interests
Are there any non-financial competing interests to declare in relation to this manuscript? Examples of non-financial competing interests include family associations, political, religious, academic or any other.
If so, please specify.
If you are unsure as to whether you, or one your co-authors, has a competing interest please discuss it with the editor.
Dove Medical Press subscribes to the general intent of the principles adopted by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) on the control of data in publications arising from sponsored research. The author submitting a manuscript for a paper for any study funded by an organization with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome shall have access to all the data in that study, and to have complete responsibility for the integrity and accuracy of the data, and the decision to publish.
According to the IMCJE guidelines, authorship credit should be based on:
1. Substantial contributions to conception and design, data acquisition, or data analysis and interpretation;
2. Drafting the article or critically revising it for important intellectual content;
3. Final approval of the version to be published; and
4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, 3, and 4 and appropriate credit for each author’s contribution should be given.
Acquisition of funding, data collection, or general team supervision alone does not constitute authorship.
All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
Increasingly, authorship of multicenter trials is attributed to a group. All members of the group who are named as authors should fully meet the above criteria for authorship/contributorship.
The group should jointly make decisions about contributors/authors before submitting the manuscript for publication. The corresponding author/guarantor should be prepared to explain the presence and order of these individuals. It is not the role of editors to make authorship/contributorship decisions or to arbitrate conflicts related to authorship.
All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the Acknowledgments section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, writing assistance, or a department chairperson who provided only general support. Authors should declare whether they had assistance with study design, data collection, data analysis, or manuscript preparation. If such assistance was available, the authors should disclose the identity of the individuals who provided this assistance and the entity that supported it in the published article. Financial and material support should also be acknowledged.
Groups of persons who have contributed materially to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship may be listed under such headings as “clinical investigators” or “participating investigators,” and their function or contribution should be described—for example, “served as scientific advisors”, “critically reviewed the study proposal”, “collected data”, or “provided and cared for study patients”. Because readers may infer their endorsement of the data and conclusions, these persons must give written permission to be acknowledged.
For individual members of a collaboration group to be searchable through PubMed (for those journals listed on PubMed), please ensure that the title of the collaboration group is included on the title page and in the submission system and also include collaborating author names as the last paragraph of the “Acknowledgements” section. Please add authors in the format First Name, Middle initial(s) (optional), Last Name.
As it takes PubMed additional time to code these groups these may not be present when an article is initially included on PubMed.
Please note: the Authorship and “Contributors Listed in Acknowledgments” sections are reprinted from the ICMJE Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. Dove Medical Press prepared this reprint. The ICMJE has not endorsed nor approved the contents of this reprint. The official version of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals is located at http://www.icmje.org/. Users should cite this official version when citing the document.
Authors' information (optional)
Information about the author(s) that may be relevant to the interpretation of the article may be listed here. This may include the authors’ affiliations, qualifications or other relevant background information. This section does not list any competing interests.
See Reference Style Guidelines
Updated 6 October 2017