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Updates from Europe PMC, a global database of life sciences literature

Europe PMC team

 | 19 November 2013


Five reasons to enter Access to Understanding

We are thrilled that you are considering entering Europe PMC’s Access to Understanding science writing competition, in partnership with The British Library. If you are an early career researcher and have not already decided this competition is for you, let me remind you of a few elements that make this competition unique.

1. You will be published!
In addition to the iPad prize (and a trophy), the winner’s entry will be published in eLife, an online, open-access journal that publishes exceptional research in life sciences and biomedicine. A collaboration between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Planck Society and Wellcome Trust, eLife is changing the way scientific articles are reviewed and published, exposing readers to the review process and providing a “Digest” version of each article to summarise the findings in non-specialist terms. Having your entry published by eLife not only gives you further international recognition, but provides you with a citable journal publication! (NB. at the discretion of the judges, second and third place will also be published).

Source: Shutterstock Copyright: Heiti Paves

2. You get to summarise cutting-edge research!
This competition challenges you to summarise one of ten pre-selected research articles published in 2013, and freely available from Europe PMC. Rather than write a journalism style report of the research, we ask for a clear presentation of the research and its key findings that will engage and inform a layperson/non-specialist as to the importance of this research. We do not expect this to be an easy task, but feel the challenge is incredibly important and will allow you, as a researcher, to develop engagement and communication skills which will be useful throughout your career. The requirement that you write on pre-selected articles hopes to raise your awareness of current research being done in a variety of biomedical topics. This way, you can focus all your efforts on the writing and need not worry about picking a winning topic. It also puts you in direct competition with other scientists. Additionally, your entry, which will be read next to entries summarising the same article, will contribute to an on-going effort by the British Library Science team and Europe PMC team to better understand the important elements of a plain English summary.

3. Your work will be approved by the senior authors themselves!
Each short-listed entry will be reviewed by the senior author of the article about which the entry was written. They will confirm whether they feel their research has been accurately represented. This additional step is an exciting way to engage senior researchers. Further, it validates the scientific content of each entry.

Source: Shutterstock Copyright: ollyy

4. You are judged by experts!
Access to Understanding competition entries are targeted towards the general public. By summarising biomedical research in plain English you are making this information accessible to everybody, including those who it may directly affect. Two members of our esteemed judging panel, notably Sharon Douglas and Graham Steel, are non-scientists who represent patient advocate groups. As such, your work will be evaluated by experts with a strong understanding of what a plain English summary of research should accomplish.

5. You can familiarise yourself with the wonderful resource that is Europe PMC!
Europe PMC is a free information resource for biomedical and life science researchers. With over 2.6 million PMC full-text articles, the PubMed abstracts, as well as access to a wide range of other resources including clinical guidelines, biological patents, research grant information and data, Europe PMC will be an indispensable resource as you continue your involvement in science and research. Take the opportunity to explore the site and see how Europe PMC can work for you!

The feedback from last year’s nearly 400 entrants concluded that this competition will present a challenge, but equally, offer you an opportunity to develop or improve your writing skills. And most importantly, it will be fun! So why wouldn’t you enter?

Remember, the competition closes at 16:00 GMT 10 December 2013. If you have any questions or want further information please contact We look forward to receiving your entry!

This post is by Rebecca Withers (Science Engagement Intern for Europe PMC).

To stay up-to-date with Europe PMC news you can also follow us on Twitter @EuropePMC_news

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Europe PMC is a service of the Europe PMC Funders' Group, in partnership with EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI); and in cooperation with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI/NLM) . It includes content provided to the PubMed Central (NLM/PMC) archive by participating publishers.