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Future Science Group – Publishing Plain Language Summary of Publications as standalone journal articles

Plain language summaries make complex science more straightforward and have a vital role in informing and empowering patients, caregivers and non-specialists alike. Indeed, active patient advocates like Simon Stones have frequently discussed the importance of making research accessible and he has said previously that “Medical professionals are no longer the sole recipients of medical publications – with patients and carers turning to the latest news on research for hope. However, this isn’t always helpful – especially when research is interpreted wrongly. This is why it is so important that we make research accessible for everyone.”

For publication professionals, this has never been more important. Initiatives from Patient Focused Medicines Development, International Society of Medical Publication Professionals and Envision Pharma Group have provided many tools to help publication professionals develop PLSs. But this is just the first step – identifying how to publish and disseminate these summaries to ensure they are discoverable by patients is equally important.

Future Science Group (FSG) has a history of innovative publishing, and are keen to recognize and promote the vital role of patients in research. All FSG journals allow the publication of lay abstracts alongside articles and enable authors to feature longer PLSs as supplementary materials that are  peer-reviewed along with the article. FSG have also introduced a new, ground-breaking article type published in all our journals – the Plain Language Summary of Publication (PLSP). Published as standalone, peer-reviewed, open access articles, PLSP provide a visually enriched summary of a key publication, or collection of related clinical studies. By publishing these as standalone articles, PLSP are citable, accessible and, more importantly, discoverable.

Features of PLSP include:

Content – As well as publishing PLSP of FSG journal articles, PLSP can also be published for articles from other publishers. Where a PLSP is based on a non-FSG article, FSG ensure the ICMJE criteria for Acceptable Secondary Publications are met.

Authorship – PLSP are written by authors of the original publication and can include patients as authors, where they can provide their own perspectives on the subject.

Peer review – All PLSP undergo full peer review by subject specialists as well as plain language experts.

Readability and language – PLSP are to be written with the target audience in mind – be that a patient, caregiver or non-specialist HCP.

Design – PLSP are designed in an infographic style, using simplified visuals and graphics to clearly convey the information discussed.

Accessibility – PLSP articles are published open access under a Creative Commons CC BY-ND license and indexed in the same way as other journal content.

Discoverability – PLSP are shared on social media platforms to ensure the resource is discoverable by a wide audience, beyond the journals’ regular readership. FSG also inform relevant patient advocacy groups and organisations that the PLSP has been published and encourage the authors and patient groups to share the publication details to maximise dissemination of the PLSP.

By publishing PLSPs as citable, peer-reviewed journal articles, FSG offers publication professionals a means to help widen the audience and reach of their publications, ensuring that patients too can learn about the results of clinical studies.

More details on the PLSP publishing program from the Future Science Group can be found at If you would like to discuss publishing a PLSP in a one of their journals, please contact FSG directly.


A sponsored article written by Future Science Group


With thanks to our sponsor, Aspire Scientific Ltd

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