The lay summary on the new submission form — for whom is it written?

When completing a new submission form in CLARA, you’ll encounter a question that reads, “What is the lay summary of this study?” As you answer this question, keep in mind your intended audience. The language used in this response should be easy to read and understandable to someone who hasn’t been in a science class since high school.

In fact, here’s a picture of your intended audience, “Aunt Clara”:


Aunt Clara, last Thanksgiving

Aunt Clara is happily retired after a long career managing the books at the restaurant she and her family owned. She sent you a nice card and check when you graduated from medical or graduate school. She remembers your birthday every year with a card featuring cats because she knows you are a cat person. You see her once a year when the whole family gets together at Thanksgiving, and you’re totally psyched about it, and not just because she always brings that great rum cake she makes, but because she’s always been such a great lady. And every year she asks you, “So, have you been working on anything exciting in that job of yours lately?”, because she’s just so proud of all her nieces and nephews and loves to hear all about what y’all have been up to.

Would you pull out a copy of your protocol and read the background section to her in response to her “Have you been working on anything exciting” query? Probably not. So please don’t cut and paste the protocol’s background section language in response to the “what is the lay summary” query. If you do, you run a high risk of getting a contingency back asking you for rewrite. Instead, keep your personal “Aunt Clara” in mind and write your response using language that would make your project understandable to her instead.