Plain Language Summary of Publication peer review guidelines

A Plain Language Summary of Publication (PLSP) is a standalone article that is published with its own DOI. It provides a clear and accurate summary of a published research article. PLSPs are appropriate for a broad audience, including non-specialist and specialist healthcare professionals, as well as patients and their caregivers.

PLSPs provide more complete and comprehensive overviews of the original scientific publications than short form Plain Language Summaries (PLS) within an original publication. To learn more about PLSPs, visit our page on How to write and publish a Plain Language Summary.

As per Taylor & Francis guidelines, PLSPs are developed with permission from the publisher and authors of the original article. The original article is cited in the PLSP, with the link to the article included in the reference. The PLSP should also clearly state that it is a summary of the published research article.

When it comes to authorship, at least one author of the original article needs to be included as an author of the PLSP. The remaining authors may include representatives from the PLSP’s targeted audience, including patients and patient caregivers.

PLSPs are typically structured in an infographic-style article that uses images, diagrams, and illustrations to convey the findings or results of the original article. However, please note that these images are not taken from the original article, but instead are included to help make the PLSPs more understandable to their audiences.

Go to the Plain Language Summary peer review guidelines.

View Plain Language Summaries that have been published in Taylor & Francis journals.

Questions to consider when peer reviewing Plain Language Summary of Publication

When providing your peer review comments, please make sure that your feedback focuses on how well the PLSP represents the original article, and suitability of the language and format for the target readership.

PLSP peer review is not a critical review of the science, methods, or results of the original publication.

Evaluating composition

  • Does the text use short and clear sentences, avoiding jargon and complex words? (see Universal Patient Language for guidelines on patient language)

  • Does the text use the active voice rather than the passive one (e.g., “Dr Smith’s team report several improvements” rather than “Several improvements were reported by Dr Smith’s team”)? 

  • Is the language used understandable for non-specialist readers? For example:

    – Are the keywords and acronyms appropriately defined?

    – Is numerical information simplified by using whole numbers and percentages rather than statistics? (For example, natural frequencies such as “X in 10” can help readers to better interpret the data.)

  • Is the language used person-centered rather than focused on the condition/illness or disability (e.g., “people with diabetes” instead of “diabetics” or “subjects”)? However, please consider that alternative preferences may exist depending on the patient community (e.g., many disabled and deaf communities prefer identity-first language rather than person-first language).

  • Is the language neutral, factual, and unbiased?

Evaluating format

  • Is the overall format of the PLSP engaging and easy to read? For example:

    – Is the text divided into relevant sections with clear headings?

    – Are the images/diagrams easy to understand and appropriate for a non-specialist audience? Please keep in mind that data must be clearly presented and should not require interpretation by the reader (e.g., complex data such as p values and KM plots should not be used). Icons that are not appropriate or representative of the text should not be used.

    – Do the images/diagrams hinder the reader’s understanding in any way? Additionally, could any information be included as a graphical representation to enhance understanding? The use of images and diagrams should add value to the PLSP and make it easier for the reader to understand the content.

  • Does the text use bullet points and/or include call-out boxes?

  • Has simple formatting been used (e.g., avoiding the use of all CAPS, italics, and underlining)?

  • Are sections well-spaced and not filled with too much content?

Evaluating content

  • Does the PLSP explain:

    – Why the study was done?

    – Who took part in the study (e.g., what condition/disease is being studied and how many people were included)?

    – What the researchers did and found, and what the results mean?

    – What treatments or interventions were included in the study and whether they have been approved?

    – What type of study has been done and whether the study is ongoing (e.g., randomized controlled, blinded, etc.)? Please note that the type of study should also be explained within the PLSP.

    – What were the results of the study, including what the results mean and why they are important? 

    – Were any side effects reported?

    – How do the results help patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers?

  • Does the text accurately reflect the overall results and conclusions of the article? Statements should not be considered misleading, promotional, or misrepresentative, nor introduce new information.

  • Could this PLSP be used on its own to describe the original scientific publication? If not, what information is missing?

I still have questions

Please read our extensive frequently asked questions for answers to common questions on reviewing a manuscript.

FAQs before review

FAQs during review

FAQs after submitting your report