It is a clear, easy to read summary that is as jargon free as possible. It provides an overview of the whole of your research study that readers can understand the first time they read it.


“If the plain English summary is well written, somehow the whole application seems easier to assess – I have an idea of what it is about.”  Public reviewer


Why is it important?

Many reviewers use this summary to inform their review of your funding application. They include clinicians and researchers who do not have specialist knowledge of your field as well as public reviewers. If your application for funding is successful, the summary will be used on NIHR and other websites.

If it is felt that your plain English summary is not clear and of a good quality then you may be required to amend your summary prior to final funding approval.

A good quality plain English summary providing an easy to read overview of your whole study will help:

  • those carrying out the review (reviewers and board and panel members) to have a better understanding of your research proposal
  • inform others about your research such as members of the public, health professionals, policy makers and the media
  • the research funders to publicise the research that they fund.

Getting your summary right now will save you time later. Use this summary as a foundation to build and adapt as your research develops.  Consider the audience and what information they will need.

Please also read the guidance for writing a plain English summary provided by the NIHR Research Programme that you are applying to.                                                                           

Individual NIHR Programmes will have different requirements for word length – some will be 300 words and others may be up to 750 words. The information will be available in their guidance for applicants.

It is helpful to involve patients / carers / members of the public in developing a plain English summary.

How is it assessed?

The summary will be assessed by NIHR reviewers and board and panel members who will comment on the summary as part of the review process.

Find out more:



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