Well maybe not a revolution but certainly an evolution. An evolution towards making research accessible to a variety of extra-academic decision makers through the use of clear language.
We thought we were being oh so clever 2 years ago when we “piloted” clear language research summaries see our blog from May 2009. We are proud of the 93 clear language research summaries we call ResearchSnapshots we have in our web accessible database. Our work was recently validated by the reported use of ResearchSnapshots by AUCC and YRDSB.
However, there really are no new ideas.
Enter the Plain Language Association InterNational (PLAIN). “Formed in 1993 as the Plain Language Network, the Plain Language Association International is a growing volunteer nonprofit organization of plain-language advocates, professionals, and organizations committed to plain language.” PLAIN has its mailing address in Ottawa, Canada so it appears that Canada is well represented in this initiative.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also has identified plain language (plain, clear…toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe) as a priority and even hold an annual competition for plain language instruments (letters, brochures, Web sites, press releases, scientific papers, reports…). Read about the NIH plain language initiative and awards here.
But wait, there’s more.
There’s even a US federal government wide initiative for clear language. PlainLanguage.gov has a mandate to improve communication from the federal government to the public. Apparently plain language Clear language writing and design principles date back to 1953 [Mazur, B., 2000. Revisiting Plain Language. Technical Communication. 47 (2): 205-211 http://www.plainlanguage.gov/whatisPL/history/mazur.cfm (30 May 2010].
We didn’t know. But what we do know is that with a growing movement towards knowledge mobilization and enhancing the extra-academic impact of research, the use of clear language to enhance access to academic research will continue to evolve. Academics and their KMb support service units such as those at ResearchImpact universities will increasingly use clear language, videos, blogs and other non-traditional research dissemination tools to get the results of research into the hands of decision makers.
After 2 years of producing and using clear language research summaries we have developed a list of recommendations for different research stakeholders. This is what we think clear language writing and design can mean to you.
|Universities and Research Institutions||
|Research Funding Organizations||
|Knowledge Transfer and Exchange organizations|
|University Researchers (faculty)||
|Community Based Researchers||
|Community and government decision makers||