Muscular Dystrophy UK – Providing updates on research projects

Grant reports – lay summaries with outcomes

Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) has funded a great amount of research to improve the lives of people with all types of muscular dystrophy. At the end of each project, the charity had intended to provide an update to supporters on what had happened during the grant. However, over time, the team had accumulated a significant backlog of projects which had had no updates written.

At the time when they approached me, the charity was updating its website, which made it a great time to tackle this backlog once and for all to provide up-to-date information.

Part of the work I did for Muscular Dystrophy UK was to clear this backlog. I updated (and at times completely re-wrote) the lay summary for each of 30 projects spanning more than five years, to include information on what happened with the research. This was based upon the final report from the researchers.

Muscular dystrophy was an unfamiliar area of medical research for me, and I had to get up to speed on a new set of terminology and concepts, including language that was preferred or disliked by the community. In the end, both the charity and I were very pleased with the information that I had written. The summaries of research outcomes made clear the difference that each of the research projects would make for people affected by these muscle-wasting conditions.

Updated information on some key projects

MDUK also had a couple of cornerstone projects which they had funded over a longer period. However, the information for these projects on their website was out of date, and sometimes different bits were spread across different pages. This made it difficult for supporters or anyone interested in these projects to find clear information on them.

For these two key projects, I gathered existing resources and re-wrote the information. This included clear descriptions of the projects, and their major achievements, getting across the difference they will make for people affected by muscular dystrophy. The charity now has one simple page for each of the projects which highlights their significance.

I also provided some advice to the charity on how the research webpages could be improved, and suggested some new content to keep its audiences informed about the research it funds.

Dr Kate Adcock, MDUK’s Director of Research, said:

“Richard not only cleared the backlog, but gave us some really great advice about how we can enhance our research web pages. Because of his scientific background and great expertise in written communications, he rapidly got to grips with the complex nature of many of our research projects, and brought them to life in ways that are easy for our audiences to understand.

“I appreciated his enthusiasm to hear about MDUK and the work that we do. It was also really easy to talk to him about some of the challenges that our community faces, so that the language used was sensitive to these challenges. He also kept me informed of progress and delivered the work in the timeframe that we agreed.”

I really enjoyed working with Muscular Dystrophy UK on this project. I learnt a great deal about the challenges facing people with muscular dystrophy, and applied this knowledge to writing information about their research which aims to tackle these challenges.