What is it about?

Writing Plain Language Summaries (PLS) is a way to communicate scientific evidence to non-experts. Since the concept is relatively new, there are different ideas of how PLS should be written and what the purpose of writing a PLS is. We have reviewed all articles that study or discuss PLSs as well as PLS guidelines until 2021. This paper provides a summary of our review and proposes a conceptual framework to contextualize PLS research and PLS guidelines.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that many people and organizations recognize the importance of PLSs. At the same time, we were able to show that there is a lack of studies that investigate whether PLSs actually make a difference to readers. Our conceptual framework provides support for PLS researchers and PLS guideline developers, to support and develop high-quality science communication.


My project team and I aim to write PLSs about psychological research that make a difference to the readers. However, at first, we were lost in a huge jungle of different guidelines and opinions on how to write good PLSs. We therefore decided to dive into this jungle completely, to search for the central themes, to order the chaos and to develop something like a road map. I really enjoyed systematically collecting, reviewing and interpreting all scientific work on PLSs. Most of all, the development of the conceptual framework was a pleasure as it helped me to find structure in the heterogeneous field of PLS theory, guidelines and empirical research.

Marlene Stoll
Leibniz Institute for Psychology (ZPID)

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Plain language summaries: A systematic review of theory, guidelines and empirical research, PLoS ONE, June 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268789.
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