Summary Guidelines


A Sciworthy article is a 600-700 word layperson summary of a recently published research paper. “Recent” in this case is no more than 2 years old, although some exceptions are made. It is preferred that authors write about their own work or work in their field, because they are most likely in those cases to put the paper into its proper context and be aware of the important papers in the field that are “Sciworthy.” =) For students, we encourage writing about papers you need to read anyway or papers on subjects in which you have a high level of interest. The lowest priority is summarizing papers outside of your area of expertise, unless you are able to explain the paper’s relevance and put it into context. Context is critical for communicating science!


Create a funny, emotional, edgy, or surprising headline to capture readers’ attention, but be honest. Keep to less than 70 characters. Do not bait and switch your readers. Make sure it is descriptive of the article’s conclusion. Choose simple, accessible language. Think of someone in your life who doesn’t understand your research at all, and write the headline for them. How do you know you’ve written a good headline? Try the Headline Analyzer! (Take some of those recommendations with a grain of salt. A score of greater than 65 is pretty good.)


We have begun including subheadings on Sciworthy. These are sometimes referred to casually as “TL;DR”s (Too Long, Didn’t Read). If your reader wants to get a general idea of what the article is about or it’s major conclusion, they can look to the subheading. Scroll through the site to get some ideas of acceptable subheadings.


Find an image relevant to your chosen paper. Your image must be large, at least 600px in height. It is critical that you use ONLY images under a Creative Commons license. You can search for these images using the Creative Commons Image Search. Even if it is your own paper, the journal typically owns the copyright on your figures and images. If it is an open access journal, we recommend you link to the images instead of downloading and inserting them directly into the article. If you are not using a Creative Commons image, then you must have explicit permission to use an image and keep that documentation on the Sciworthy Google Drive. Of course, you are welcomed to and encouraged to design your own figures to accompany your article if they add clarity.

Avoid overly complex figures and graphs. Many people struggle with understanding the simple XY coordinate plane, let alone something more involved. That said, any figures or graphs need to be thoroughly explained with all terms/axes defined.

Body of Article

Make sure your science post has a minimum of 400 words but do not exceed 1000 words. The target length is 600-700 words. Tell the story that the paper represents. Summarize the most important results and their significance, including how the conclusions were drawn if it is not too technical. Clearly define discipline specific jargon, or avoid it all together. The best method is to build the definition right into the narrative. If it is effective, but not deceitful, make an emotional connection or employ the “wow” factor.