2.7 Put your draft take-home message through the Friends and rels test

To help ensure that your paper’s take-home message is clear and compelling, it’s helpful to subject your draft take-home message to the Friends and rels test, as outlined below.

Ask an honest and intelligent friend or relative who is NOT a researcher or specialist in your field to read your take-home message, and then tell you in their own words why you did your study, what you did, what you found, and why it’s important.

If they cannot do this immediately and easily, it means they didn’t understand your take-home message.

First, ask your friend or relative if there are any terms in your take-home message that they didn’t understand, and then replace those terms with words they understand. This will help you remove all discipline-specific jargon from your take-home message.

Then, explain your take-home message to your friend or relative in a variety of different ways, out loud, until they understand what you mean and why your research is important.

Encourage your friend or relative to ask searing questions like ‘So what?’ and ‘Who cares?’, to prompt you to explain your take-home message to them in different ways, or to consider different benefits of your research that you may not have considered before.

Keep going until your friend or relative can clearly see the benefit(s) of your findings.

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