What’s the point of academic research if only other academics can understand it? Governments often fund research, so we should all have access to this new knowledge. But if you want to rise in the ranks of academia you need to follow the “rules” for publishing. You also need to show that you know the language and jargon. There is no need to change this. What we need are additional plain language summaries. The picture below shows an example.
Academic papers begin with an abstract – an outline of what the paper or article is about. It usually says what the problem is, what they researched and what they found. A plain language summary of the abstract gives the same information but in less words. So what does a plain language summary look like?
A good example is the article, Co-designing the Cabriotraining: A training for transdisciplinary teams. It begins with an “Accessible Summary” followed by the regular abstract. This is how it reads:
- The research was conducted by a team of researchers. Some of the researchers have experience of living with a disability.
- The researchers created training for other research teams that include experts by experience.
- The training has six parts. To decide what happened in the training, the researchers read articles and asked the research teams they trained about what problems they had and what they wanted to know about.
- The article tells why and how the training was made. It also says what training is needed for researchers with and without disabilities to learn and work together in a way that feels safe and useful.
- In developing and providing the training, it was very crucial to search for a safe and welcome space for all people involved (Figure 8). As we don’t know what is “safe” for the other, this means we have to search together, in respect and with enough time to get to know each other.
Editor’s note: Great to see an academic paper translated into key points that many more people can understand. From my experience, writing succinctly and plainly is a rare skill in academia. I was delighted to see this example. It’s universal design!
See previous post on Plain Language Communication.