Disseminating research results through plain language summaries

Plain language summaries (or lay summaries) are short accounts of research that are written for members of the general public (and researchers from other fields of study). They explain research to the non-expert. Plain language summaries provide a bigger picture context for the research, and show why it is important. They are useful in supporting wider public engagement with research and are particularly important for research in medicine and health.

Plain language summaries support the dissemination of research to patients, participants, other scientists, health professionals and policy makers. They are written so the intended audience can read, understand and act upon the first time they read it.

Below is a link to a suggested plain language summary template, developed by York University, which may be useful as a tool for breaking down your research findings into a succinct, easy-to-understand document that can be disseminated to a broad audience.

Plain language summary template


All publications (including those using data from external datasets linked with ALSWH data) must include the following acknowledgement:

"The research on which this (paper, book, monograph, abstract or report) is based was conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health by the University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health for funding and to the women who provided the survey data".

Medicare or Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
Where Medicare or Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data are used, The Department of Health and Medicare Australia must be acknowledged with the statement “We acknowledge the Department of Health and Medicare Australia for providing the PBS and MBS data.  We also acknowledge the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) as the integrating authority for these data”.

Food Frequency Questionnaire
When using the full FFQ or nutrients derived from FFQ (from any survey) Professor Graham Giles should be contacted Graham.Giles@cancervic.org.au and offered the opportunity (or his representative from Cancer Council Victoria) to collaborate in any publications.

Where the food frequency questionnaire has been used, Cancer Council Victoria must be acknowledged with the statement "The authors thank Professor Graham Giles of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre of Cancer Council Victoria, for permission to use the Dietary Questionnaire for Epidemiological Studies (Version 2), Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria, 1996." Furthermore, all parties are to notify each other before presenting any DQES data at a conference, seminar or other forum, and, where appropriate, must provide copies of the presentation, papers etc. to the Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre.

National Death Index
Where Participant Status (National Death Index) data have been used, the AIHW must be acknowledged with the statement “We acknowledge the assistance of the Data Linkage Unit at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for undertaking the data linkage to the National Death Index (NDI).”

Aged Care
Where Aged Care Data are used, the Department of Health and the AIHW must be acknowledged with the statement “We acknowledge the Department of Health for providing these data and the AIHW as the integrating authority and the source of the data”.

Other External Sources
Where data from other external sources are used, the following acknowledgement with appropriate insertions, should also be included

• For NSW data: The authors thank the NSW Ministry of Health, the NSW Central Cancer Registry and staff at the Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL)

• For Victoria: The authors thank staff at The Cancer Council Victoria

• For QLD, WA & SA Data: "The authors wish to thank the staff at the [Insert name of Data Linkage Unit/s] and the data custodians of the [insert names of Data Collections involved]

Any outcome/s from research using data from external datasets must be reviewed/ approved by the ALSWH Data Linkage Committee and the ALSWH liaison person before they are circulated beyond the collaborators named in the EoI.

Collaborators who have used data from the following external state-based datasets must provide a copy of all publications to the relevant data linkage unit prior to submission.

WA- Hospital Morbidity Data System (HMDS), WA Cancer Registry and Midwives Notification System (MNS)

NSW- Admitted Patients Data Collection (APDC), NSW Cancer Registry and Perinatal Data Collection (PDC)

QLD- Admitted Patients Data Collection (QHAPDC), Queensland Cancer Registry (QCR) and Queensland Perinatal Data Collection (QPDC)

SA- Hospital Morbidity Data System (HMDS) and South Australian Cancer Registry (SACR) 

Papers based on data provided by the AIHW (MBS, PBS, Aged Care, NDI) must be provided to the AIHW, but these do not need to be reviewed prior to publication.

Additional funding agencies should also be acknowledged if this is applicable.

The acknowledgement may refer to any other persons who have provided comments, advice, support or other input into the paper, who are not already listed as authors. Permission should be sought from these persons before including their names.