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Innovation in Scientific Communications

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Maximising Comprehension and Minimising Ambiguity: Developing a Linguistics Evidence Base to Drive Innovation in Scientific Communications

by ApotheCom

Summary of work

The impact and comprehension of scientific messages is dependent on their linguistic framing. We aimed to evidence the selection of linguistic frameworks in medical communications to maximise clarity and understanding.

Questionnaire participants were presented with 55 statementpairs taken from an anonymised schizophrenia scientific communications platform. The statement pairs were categorised as follows: complex vs concise, positive vs negative, active vs passive, and percentage vs fraction vs number. Participants chose their preferred statement based on ‘clarity, impact and effectiveness’ within 45 seconds.

The questionnaire had 155 respondents, including HCPs, clients and internal agency staff. A review of standard scientific content illustrated that statements tend to be complex, negative and written in the passive voice. Student’s T-tests showed that participants preferred scientific content to be concise, positive, and active, and for data to be presented as percentages (all: P<0.001). The only non-significant comparisons were for expressing data as fractions vs numbers.

People have linguistic preferences for what makes a statement clear, impactful and effective. Linguistic frameworks presented in a concise, positive manner and using the active voice are preferred to other frameworks. These findings can be used as an evidence base to maximise comprehension and minimise ambiguity in scientific communications.

Judges' comments

The judges considered this as a very well-structured entry and liked the level of scientific rigour used in the team’s approach. It had SMART objectives, a good, clear strategy and the judges liked that they are collaborating with a PhD student. A great implementation with the audience front of mind.

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Key dates

Entry deadline 10th March 2023
Extended entry deadline 17th March 2023
(additional fee applies)
Judging days 4th, 5th and 19th
May 2023
Awards Ceremony 6th July 2023

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