How do I write a lay summary?

The lay summary is extremely important as this is the means by which the Research Board judges a submission. Researchers should make sure it is easy to read and understand, conveys the key issues about the study, and is suitable for anyone without any subject knowledge. It will be included on the parkrun website should the study be supported.

The lay summary should:

  • Provide a clear and concise summary of the whole project
  • Be written in simple language that everyone can understand
  • Use everyday English words
  • Be ordered logically and flow naturally
  • Be written in the active voice ('I... we..')
  • Explain why the project is being undertaken
  • State the research question or hypothesis
  • Describe the main methods
  • Describe who is being recruited to take part in the study and recruitment methods
  • State where and when the study will take place
  • State the timescale of the study
  • Describe why the results may be interesting to parkrunners

The lay summary should not:

  • Be longer than 500 words
  • Include technical jargon or abbreviations
  • Only describe the background to the study
  • Be written as a recruitment advert for the study (that is not the purpose of the lay summary)
  • Have long, complicated sentences
  • Contain spelling mistakes or grammatical errors
  • Contain complex or meaningless words or phrases

Researchers should test their lay summary on a non-researcher before submission to ensure it meets the guidelines above.

There are many websites offering guidance on how to write a lay summary. One example is

Powered by Zendesk