This workshop confronts the considerable challenge of writing scientific material suitable for a lay or nontechnical audience: lay summaries of research and clinical evaluations, technical instructions for equipment use, newsletters, web-based disease awareness articles, medication dosing instructions, hospital discharge summaries, consent forms … and many more.
Writing readable science for a lay audience can be difficult for scientists. Indeed, they can struggle to write clearly in scientific research manuscripts when targeting their fellow scientists! Whether writing for other scientists or a lay audience, the principles of delivering a readable message are similar. But communicating complex ideas to a lay audience requires us scientists to think even harder about our audience: their level of understanding, vocabulary that they are comfortable with and the messages we wish them to take home. We need a knowledge of the tactics that improve readability: logical presentation of relevant ideas, clear and simple writing style, good organisation of documents, and attractive and helpful formatting – to include appropriate visual aids when appropriate.
Can we measure readability and therefore have quantitative targets against which to benchmark our writing?
Are there tools to help us write more readably?
We’ll consider examples of both readable and problematic text and aim to adopt best practice when writing for a lay audience.