For entrants

These criteria from the 2015 competition are for information only. The Access to Understanding competition is closed to entries. Information about the winners of the competition can be found here.

Judging criteria

Judges will be asking:

  • Does the entry explain the context of the research (i.e. why it was done, what the results mean)?
  • Have the key points and concepts in the article been picked up in the plain English summary (i.e. what was done, what were the results)?
  • Does the entry present the research without distortion? Is it correct and impartial?
  • Does the entry explain the research in a way that is easy to understand? Is appropriate language used (plain English, no jargon)? Is there a logical and cohesive structure to the piece? Is the entry written in an engaging manner?

There are two rounds of judging for the competition, and all entries are anonymised for this process. Top entries for each research article are shortlisted by Europe PMC funders and the Science Team at the British Library, and are additionally approved by the corresponding/senior author of the article as being an accurate representation of the research. Selection of the winning entries is conducted by our expert panel.

The entry should be aimed at a non-specialist audience, who is interested in the research and motivated to learn more, and capable of understanding something written at the level of an article in a broadsheet newspaper.

We have provided some guidance for writing a plain English summary that draws on our experiences of judging previous year’s entries to help you.

Entry criteria

  • The competition opens on 11 November 2014.
  • The deadline for entries is 16:00 GMT 9 December 2014. Please note that there may be numerous people submitting entries as the deadline approaches. Try not to leave submitting your entry until the last hour or so before the competition closes; we cannot accept responsibility for entries that do not reach us in time.
  • Shortlisted entrants will be informed no later than 9 March 2015.
  • All current biomedical and life sciences PhD students, and post-doctoral researchers with a maximum of six years experience following completion of their first PhD, are eligible to enter.
  • We are unable to consider entries from undergraduate and master’s students, research assistants or lab technicians.
  • We welcome worldwide entries, although regret that we can only consider entries written in English.
  • Our audience is non-specialist, interested in the research and motivated to learn more, and capable of understanding something written at the level of an article in a broadsheet newspaper.
  • Your entry must be no more than 800 words, including the title.
  • Your entry must be text only – no diagrams or tables should be included.
  • Your entry should make sense as a standalone piece.
  • You may refer to or quote from other people’s work to provide context for your entry. A maximum of five references is allowed, which must be freely available (i.e. not behind a paywall). You should include a link to your source, so we can verify the information if we need to. Note that references will contribute towards your overall word count. It is not necessary to reference the article about which you have chosen to write your entry.
  • You should save your entry as a Word document.
    • The document should contain only your entry (your entry title and plain English summary of your chosen research article; 800 words in total). You must not identify yourself anywhere within this document.
    • Please ensure your text is 1.5 spaced Calibri or Arial font, size 11pt, and leave a free line between paragraphs. You should select the Bold font option for your title.
    • Name your document using the following format:
      • For example, A_SMITH_JOHN
      • The article code is the letter assigned to the article in the ‘Selected articles’ list (above)
    • We will be unable to consider entries that do not meet these specifications.
  • Your entry (Word document) should be uploaded as part of a completed entry form.
  • You may only submit one entry, i.e. you must select one article about which to write your summary.
  • All entries will be anonymised for judging and will be reviewed by at least two judges.
  • We regret that we are unable to provide individual feedback.
  • By entering the competition, you agree that:
    • Your entry and name may be used for promotion of the award.
    • Your entry may be published using a CC BY license, and will be displayed on the Europe PMC blog and Access to Understanding websites.
  • Any competition queries should be sent to Entries will not be considered via this route.
  • We are unable to provide travel or accommodation costs for those wishing to attend the awards ceremony.
  • You will be disqualified where there is any evidence of plagiarism.
  • The winning entry will be published by eLife. The winner will also receive an iPad. Prizes will also be awarded for 2nd place (an iPad mini), 3rd place (£100 Amazon voucher), and for the People’s Choice Award (surprise gift) identified by public vote, and at the judges’ discretion, entries may also be published by eLife.
  • The judges’ decision will be final.

The competition is brought to you by the British Library, eLife and Europe PMC as part of the Access to Understanding collaboration, promoting wider understanding of biomedical research findings.