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Writing for a non-expert audience

It’s really important that your URSS project description can be easily understood by a non-expert reader. There is no guarantee that the reviewer who assesses your project will be a specialist in your subject area, and it will be difficult for them to review and score a project that they do not understand.

Similarly, when sharing your research at the end of your URSS project, keep in mind that the audience at the URSS showcase event will come from a range of disciplines. Not everyone will be an expert in your subject but they will nonetheless be very interested in learning more about your research.

Writing for a non-expert audience is an important communication skill for any researcher, and the URSS offers a great opportunity to develop and practise it.

Top tips for writing for a non-expert audience are:

  • Think about your audience: what information is going to be interesting or important to them?
  • Keep it succinct. There is no need to give lots of detail if it won’t be understood. Instead try and focus on the bigger picture and the impact of your research.
  • Avoid jargon wherever possible, and if you need to use technical language make sure you explain what it means.
  • Keep your writing clear and simple, using short sentences and accessible language.

To check whether what you have written can be understood by someone without expert subject knowledge, ask a friend or family member to read it and give you honest feedback. You might need to spend some time editing and re-drafting your project description but it will be time well spent.


You may find these tools helpful when writing for a non-expert audience:

 Up-Goer Five text editorLink opens in a new window: challenges you to explain your idea using the most common words

Hemmingway AppLink opens in a new window: will check your writing and highlight any sentences that are too long or complex