At the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences’ 4th Annual Symposium, “Making an Impact, Shaping the Future,” panelist Dr. L. Ebony Boulware, vice dean for translational science research at Duke University, emphasized the need to speak a common language, especially when working with community members and research participants.
While this isn’t always an easy task, it is a worthwhile one. Becker Library’s Center for Health and Science Communication exists to help bridge communication gaps and can assist researchers in this process.
A recommended first step toward using a common language is to avoid jargon and explain unfamiliar terms. Research and medical glossaries are great resources to simplify and explain common terms related to your work. Here are a few to get you started:
- The Clinical Research Glossary from the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides simple ways to describe clinical trial terms such as cohort and anonymize
- National Cancer Institute offers definitions for 250 terms related to genetics
- The University of Michigan’s Plain Language Medical Dictionary provides definitions for hundreds of basic medical terms such as cholesterol, tachycardia, and mammogram
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Informed Consent Language Database contains more than 2,000 descriptions of risks and events related to clinical research
- The Plain Language Action and Information Network offers a list of common words such as accomplish, utilize, and implement that should be swapped with more familiar words
For more on plain language and effective science communication, check out the growing collection of resources at sites.wustl.edu/chsc.