Malaria article wins Access to Understanding prize

An article about the changing risk of Malaria in Africa has won the Access to Understanding writing competition.

The competition, led by the British Library and supported by the open access journals eLife and Europe PMC, aims to promote a wider understanding of biomedical research by challenging early career researchers to summarise selected scientific research in plain English.

Entrants must discuss why the research was done, what was done and why this was important to create balanced, understandable summaries of scientific research.

This year's winner is postdoctoral researcher Philippa Matthews for her article 'Rolling back malaria: A journey through space and time' about the measurement of the changing pattern of malaria risk in Africa. The Wellcome Trust-funded paper that Philippa's article was based on was one of twelve research papers that the entrants could select to write about.

Philippa said: "Communicating clearly is an essential part of my work both as a clinician and a scientist. This competition challenged me to think hard about the best way to distil a complex research article into something accessible, engaging and interesting to a wide audience. I am passionate about research that can bring about change for populations who are vulnerable to diseases of poverty; for this reason, I invested particular enthusiasm into summarising an inspiring piece of work that could significantly influence the way that clinical, research and public health communities set out to tackle malaria across Africa."

Although open access to research is increasing, the use of highly technical language means that much of this information is only accessible to a niche audience. The writing prize aims to bridge this gap between public access to biomedical research and the wider understanding of these findings, while also giving young researchers experience in communicating scientific findings.

Dr Anna Kinsey, Access to Understanding project lead, said: "We've once again had a great response to this competition. There has been a year-on-year improvement in entry quality by our entrants who rose to the tough challenge we set them. We're fantastically pleased to see their entries so enthusiastically received by the public."

You can read Philippa's article in the open access journal eLife from 31 March and also on the Access to Understanding website. The research Philippa's article is based on is freely available through Europe PMC.