Plain Language Summary peer review guidelines

A Plain Language Summary (PLS) communicates the significance of published research to a broad audience, including patients, their caregivers, and non-specialist and specialist healthcare professionals. It should be written in jargon-free and clear language that is easy to understand.

For more information, visit our page on How to write and publish a Plain Language Summary.

Taylor & Francis encourages authors to include PLS within journal articles. Manuscripts submitted for peer review may include one or both of the following PLS formats:

  • Text PLS: A text paragraph (recommended length, 250 words) written in continuous prose plain text.

  • Graphical PLS: A single graphic that incorporates text and visuals to graphically represent the text version of the PLS.

Go to the Plain Language Summary of Publication peer review guidelines.

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

Plain Language Summary peer review checklist

Evaluating composition

  • Does the text use short and clear sentences, avoiding jargon and complex words? (see Universal Patient Language for a guideline 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 content

  • Is the PLS distinct from the abstract and easy to understand? Does it add value for a non-specialist reader beyond what is provided in the abstract?

  • 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.

  • Does the PLS 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?

Evaluating layout (for graphical PLS)

  • Are text and visuals well-spaced and not overfilled with content?

  • Have the graphics, charts and tables been used appropriately, and do they aid rather than hinder understanding?

  • Have headings, subheadings and bullet points been used appropriately?

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