The Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy is now requiring the inclusion of plain language summaries (PLS) in certain articles published in the journal. The aim is to ensure that research published in the journal is accessible to a wider range of stakeholders that includes patients.
We spoke with Laura E. Happe, PharmD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy, and Associate Professor, University of Florida College of Pharmacy, to learn more about this new requirement for authors and how this change has been perceived so far.
- What has been the driving factor for you to mandate PLS in Research, Research Briefs, Systematic Reviews, and Viewpoint articles published in JMCP?
Our decision to publish PLS was mission-driven. At JMCP, we foster the exchange of ideas across a span of stakeholders, many of whom are not regular readers of scientific literature. We also promote managed care pharmacy’s role in addressing racial and social inequities in medication use.
We began requiring PLS for manuscripts submitted in October 2021. We will begin publishing manuscripts that include PLS in April 2022.
- How have authors reacted so far to this mandate?
Our authors have quickly adapted to submitting PLS along with their manuscripts. While there are a variety of formats being used for PLS today, we have adopted a concise summary with a 75-word limit at JMCP. Although it seems like writing a short summary should be easy, it can be very challenging for authors to distil their findings into just a few words. And while our authors have expressed excitement about this new feature in JMCP, we have seen that many have difficulties writing in plain language.
- Are you looking to provide any tools to help authors write their PLS?
We point our authors to resources provided by ISMPP. Based on this, we encourage authors to use short sentences and short words, avoid jargon, and use conversational language.
We also ask our authors to aim for an 8th grade reading level, which can be challenging. The reading level recommendation is based on PCORI, which posts study summaries for the public at a 6th to 8th grade reading level.
- Will the PLS be discoverable on Medline alongside the article?
Yes. Because we adopted a 75-word format for our PLS, it was easy to incorporate them directly into our manuscripts themselves. JMCP is Medline-indexed and the full text of all of our articles, including PLS, are available free on our website.
We recognize that there are a variety of formats being used for PLS today, and there are limitations to our 75-word format. Our format allows the authors to describe the key results from their research, but they likely aren’t able to include other important information like study limitations. Even so, the inclusion of PLS will enable a wider range of stakeholder to access research that will help improve health for all patients through access to high-quality, cost-effective medications.
Learn more about JMCP and their commitment to publishing PLS here.