Have you ever wondered what a Lay Language Summary is and why the Institutional Review Board (IRB) asks you to include one with your submission? The purpose of the Lay Language Summary is to provide a clear overview of the research in straightforward, non-technical language. In other words, we want you to describe your project in layman’s terms. This summary is used by IRB staff for a quick rundown of the study when reviewing modifications or other sub-projects, and by non-scientist members of the IRB and those members that represent the general public. It can also be used for media/press releases if needed. It’s a really useful tool for study participants, too.
Tips for writing a great Lay Language Summary:
- Remember that it is a summary so keep it under two pages.
- Write at an 8th grade reading level or below.
- Provide brief descriptions of any tests or procedures.
- If you use medical terminology and abbreviations define/describe them.
- If you use acronyms, spell them out the first time you use them.
- Protocol language is usually too technical for a lay language summary so avoid copying and pasting from it.
One of the best techniques for writing in lay language is to imagine you are explaining your protocol to your grandmother: She’s probably smart and interested but unfamiliar with your work. Try these tips the next time you write a Lay Language Summary, and let us know if they work for you.
Contact Ames Elliot with questions or want to share your tips with us.