Science blog

Exploring science at the British Library

3 posts from November 2014

28 November 2014

How to write a plain English summary

An introduction to the Access to Understanding web resource, which provides guidance on how to write a plain English summary.

The 2015 Access to Understanding science writing competition is now open for entries. The British Library, Europe PMC and eLife are challenging early career researchers to write a plain English summary of a recent biomedical research article.

If you are thinking of entering the competition then you might be interested in taking a look at the writing guidance on the Access to Understanding website.


This resource explains what a plain English summary is and gives top tips on how you can write a great one yourself. It also covers the reasons why plain English summaries are useful and provides links to further resources where you can find inspiration and learn more.

Some excellent prizes are on offer for this year's competition - the winner will receive an iPad and their entry published in eLife. The competition closes on 9th December so if you are looking for something to do this weekend then look no further! Find out more about the competition here.

Katie Howe

11 November 2014

Science writing competition - now open for entries!

We are excited to announce the launch of 2015's Access to Understanding science writing competition - a prestigious, international competition aimed at PhD students and early career post-doctoral researchers where the challenge is to summarise a cutting-edge research article for a non-specialist audience.

The winner will receive an iPad and have their entry published in eLife. Read on for more…

A2U competition flyer_2015

For more information:

Questions: [email protected]

The competition is developed by the British Library, eLife and Europe PMC for Access to Understanding. It is supported by the Europe PMC Funders.

Access to Understanding is a collaboration promoting wider understanding of biomedical research findings.

03 November 2014

Access to Understanding

This week we share the final video from our Beautiful Science events season - the Access to Understanding science writing competition.

‘Access to Understanding’ is a science writing competition that challenges early career researchers to summarize a recent biomedical research article for a public audience.  The competition is delivered by the British Library in partnership with Europe PMC – the free life sciences information resource.  Although the move towards open access publishing means that scientific research is more easily accessible, access does not always equate to understanding as scientific papers often contain highly specific technical language. Access to Understanding aims to bridge this gap between access and understanding. 

Winning entrants were recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony, which included speeches by Sharmila Nebhrajani (Association of Medical Research Charities) and the Government Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport on the importance of communicating science in an understandable way. As keynote speaker Sir Mark Walport said, “Science is for everyone - not just to be shared within a small closed community”.

First place went to Elizabeth Kirkham for her entry which explained research investigating the role of the brain in musical beat prediction and was published by eLife. 2014 also saw the launch of the People’s Choice award, which invited members of public to vote for their favourite shortlisted entry. You can read all the winning entries in the competition booklet

This year’s Access to Understanding competition launches later in November. We’ll be sharing more information on this blog very soon so stay tuned!

Katie Howe