A Protocol for Co-Creating Research Project Lay Summaries with Stakeholders: Guideline Development for Canada’s AGE-WELL Network

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
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Final version published as: 

Wada, M., Sixsmith, J., Harwood, G. et al. A protocol for co-creating research project lay summaries with stakeholders: guideline development for Canada’s AGE-WELL network. Res Involv Engagem 6, 22 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40900-020-00197-3.

Date created: 
DOI: 10.1186/s40900-020-00197-3
Lay summary
Collaborative team research
Stakeholder involvement


Funding bodies increasingly require researchers to write lay summaries to communicate projects’ real-world relevance to the public in an accessible way. However, research proposals and findings are generally not easily readable or understandable by non-specialist readers. Many researchers find writing lay summaries difficult because they typically write for fellow subject specialists or academics rather than the general public or a non-specialist audience. The primary objective of our project is to develop guidelines for researchers in Canada’s AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence, and ultimately various other disciplines, sectors, and institutions, to co-create lay summaries of research projects with stakeholders. To begin, we produced a protocol for co-creating a lay summary based on workshops we organized and facilitated for an AGE-WELL researcher. This paper presents the lay summary co-creation protocol that AGE-WELL researchers will be invited to use.


Eligible participants in this project will be 24 AgeTech project researchers who are funded by the AGE-WELL network in its Core Research Program 2020. If they agree to participate in this project, we will invite them to use our protocol to co-produce a lay summary of their respective projects with stakeholders. The protocol comprises six steps: Investigate principles of writing a good lay summary, identify the target readership, identify stakeholders to collaborate with, recruit the identified stakeholders to work on a lay summary, prepare for workshop sessions, and execute the sessions. To help participants through the process, we will provide them with a guide to developing an accessible, readable research lay summary, help them make decisions, and host, and facilitate if needed, their lay summary co-creation workshops.


Public-facing research outputs, including lay summaries, are increasingly important knowledge translation strategies to promote the impact of research on real-world issues. To produce lay summaries that include information that will interest a non-specialist readership and that are written in accessible language, stakeholder engagement is key. Furthermore, both researchers and stakeholders benefit by participating in the co-creation process. We hope the protocol helps researchers collaborate with stakeholders effectively to co-produce lay summaries that meet the needs of both the public and project funders.

Document type: 
Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE)