Our pledge: summaries in plain language for all journal publications

By Will Gattrell

Today, we are broadening our commitment to providing everyone with the opportunity to read and understand our research. From July 2022, we will publish, as a minimum, a 250-word plain language summary alongside all company-sponsored journal publications from human studies.

This was made public at the European Meeting of the International Society of Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) alongside our findings that show that plain language summaries remain rare, with a prevalence of 61 per million articles listed on PubMed (1).

We believe that developing plain language summaries will make our research more accessible and inclusive (2), thus expanding on our original commitment to publishing our journal articles with open access. Since 2019 we have remained the only pharmaceutical company to fully deliver on this commitment, with 150 journal articles free to view and still counting.

Readers regularly express their desire to read primary scientific literature to educate themselves from a reliable source, and their frustration at how inaccessible it can be. For instance, putting the findings of research in simple words was rated as a priority in a patient survey that we conducted last year and that asked 103 patient organizations worldwide about ways of delivering patient value.

Plain language summaries put complex information into everyday language so that it can be understood by all audiences, including patients, patient advocates, caregivers, healthcare professionals, policy makers, and those whose first language is different to that in which the article is written.

At Ipsen, the Patient Centricity and Global Medical Publications and Communications teams have co-created a process for plain language summary development, which includes review by a panel of non-specialists. The process is in sync with the first published recommendations on how to develop plain language summaries for medical journal publications that we worked on together with Open Pharma last year (2).

Ultimately, plain language summaries can help enhance the conversations between patients and their physicians, which in return can result in improved patient outcomes. Through this move, we hope to encourage the industry to adopt them more broadly.

If you have any questions or would like any further information on our commitment, please contact: GMPC@ipsen.com



  1. Gattrell W. et al. Prevalence and characteristics of plain language summaries indexed in PubMed. Presented at the European Meeting of the International Society of Medical Publication Professionals Virtual Meeting, January 25-26, 2022.
  2. Curr Med Res Opin. 2021 Nov;37(11):2015-2016. doi: 1080/03007995.2021.1971185. Epub 2021 Sep 12.


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