Plain-language summaries: Journals and other organizations that produce plain-language summaries | eLife

“As part of our “Plain-language summaries of research” series, we have compiled a list of over 50 journals and other organizations that publish plain-language summaries of scientific research.

Click this link to view the list and find out where you can read these summaries online.

We need your help to keep this list up-to-date. To add a new organization to the list, or to update existing information, please contact us by email at….”

Plain-language summaries: Results of the 2016 eLife digest reader survey

“eLife has been producing plain-language summaries – known as eLife digests – for research articles since the journal launched in 2012. The digests are written to explain the background and significance of the research clearly to people outside the field, including other scientists and members of the general public.

Who reads eLife digests? Is there anything we can do to improve them? To help us answer these questions we carried out a survey of our readers in late 2016. We advertised the survey on our website and social media over a six-week period and received 313 responses from readers of eLife digests. As part of our “Plain-language summaries of research” series we now present the results of the survey in detail below….”

Academics can change the world – if they stop talking only to their peers

“Some academics insist that it’s not their job to write for the general public. They suggest that doing so would mean they’re “abandoning their mission as intellectuals”. They don’t want to feel like they’re “dumbing down” complex thinking and arguments.

The counter argument is that academics can’t operate in isolation from the world’s very real problems.

They may be producing important ideas and innovations that could help people understand and perhaps even begin to address issues like climate change, conflict, food insecurity and disease….”

An inside guide to eLife digests | eLife

“So, what is the point of eLife digests? Firstly, we see digests as part of a wider effort to make original research as open and accessible as possible. Being an open-access journal means that anyone (with an Internet connection) can freely read articles published in eLife. The digests should mean that the majority of those readers can also learn something about the latest research results reported in the journal, regardless of their background.

Secondly, eLife is a journal with a broad scope and eLife digests are one small way that we can help to foster interdisciplinary research. A plant biologist with decades of experience in research, for example, is unlikely to also be an expert in neuroscience (and vice versa). By explaining the findings of a paper in plain language, we hope that digests will help other scientists to identify new connections between different scientific disciplines….”

Why Scientists Must Learn to Communicate With the Public

“The way the scientific publishing system is currently designed, it is impossible to get hold of peer-reviewed and published work from a well-known journal without paying a substantial sum of money for a subscription. Unless one has access to a university or an allied subscription (or an open-access journal), it is not possible for the public to read any of the articles published in for-profit, closed-access scientific journals. Thus, even though a scientist can claim that she has done her ‘communication duty’ by publishing her work in a scientific journal, the net result is that the public is still in the dark about her work, simply due to a lack of access. Therefore, the onus is on the scientists to make sure that their work actually reaches the public….”


“Simply put, Brevy is a wiki for summaries of academic research. This site lets anyone (with or without an account) freely create and browse these summaries easily without the need of any coding knowledge.

With much of science and other research hidden behind paywalls, the general public often does not have a means of accessing this knowledge. Moreover, as research is often quite verbose and jargon-filled, it’s hard to decypher. Brevy solves this by providing clear and concise summaries when possible….”