Plain Language Summaries: Good for everyone

A blank page of a spiral notebook and and fountain pen.What are Plain Language Summaries? These are an invaluable adjunct to abstracts in academic papers. They help more readers understand the content of the article, especially if the topic is unfamiliar. Beth Myers and Teukie Martin provide a good example when explaining why they use these summaries:

What are Plain Language Summaries (PLS)?
• Plain language summaries are short summaries of research articles.
• They communicate the main ideas of the article and are easy to understand.
• PLS are also used by the government, doctors, and places like banks and utility companies. Some research journals use PLS, too.

Why are PLS important?
• Research articles can be hard to read and understand.
• PLS make research accessible to many kinds of people.
• Everyone should have access to information that impacts their lives. PLS help make that possible.

Why are PLS important for the Journal of Inclusive Postsecondary Education?
• We want our work to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, including students with intellectual disability and all people who care about inclusive education.
• We want to show other journals how to be more accessible.
• We want to make the world a better and more accessible place. 

Plain language writing is clear, succinct, and jargon-free, and is organized in a way that helps understanding. It is a reader-centered way of writing so that readers can access, comprehend, and utilise information. Plain language writing benefits all readers while ensuring crucial access for some. It’s universal design.

The title of the article is, Why Plain Language? Linguistic Accessibility in Inclusive Higher Education. The journal is clearly living the message of inclusion in writing up research. As such, this is a short document with all the key information without jargon. 

Plain Language Summaries are not quite the same as Easy Read or Easy English documents which use simplified language. The wording and pictures in these documents are carefully placed on the page as well.