In September 2017, the NIHR Newcastle BRC appointed a cohort of Biomedical PhD trainees who are currently researching a wide range of translational ageing and long-term condition topics. With our vision of improving lives through world-class research, a key skill for our trainees is effectively communicating scientific research to a lay audience and the public who will be impacted by their findings.
Plain English summaries are an incredibly important element of this communication, not only for recruiting participants in clinical trials, but also for research grant applications and ensuring that information is accessible to both the public and professionals in other fields.
To provide bespoke training for our students, our Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and Training teams collaborated to deliver a workshop focusing on PPI and the importance of clearly communicating scientific research to a public audience. Working with volunteers from the group VOICE, this event allowed our students to receive first-hand feedback on their research projects and a prepared plain English summary.
The event started with an informal lunch allowing the students to network with members of the public to discuss their projects. The small group-work format of the workshop then allowed the trainees to present first drafts of their summaries and to hear the public’s perspectives on the clarity of their explanation. The feedback from not only the volunteers but also other trainees, encouraged them to think about how accessible their explanations were for someone unfamiliar with the research area or scientific terminology.
This interactive event was a fantastic opportunity for the trainees to work with members of the public and was interesting and informative for the VOICE members. When asked about the best part of the session our volunteer Shelia commented:
“Talking and discussing with the PhD students all aspects of their very interesting research. I am amazed at the breadth of health research and the impact the outcomes could have on patients”
Drawing on the feedback from the public, the students then recorded a concise summary of their research. These video summaries will be available via the VOICE platform for members to vote and the winner with the clearest explanation will receive a contribution towards travel costs to a conference of their choice.