Writing guides


We have a number of tools that enable us to have a shared and consistent approach to written content about the NIHR that will improve the quality of our content.

We also have specific guidance on writing for the web.


Writing goals and principles

Content written for the NIHR will aim to:

Encourage collaboration

Whether it is patients looking to take part in a trial, researchers applying for funding or a company within the life sciences industry looking to partner with us, the NIHR wants to make is as simple as possible for people to collaborate and participate.

Content must:

Be led by the user needs. Guided by what readers want from the NIHR and not what the NIHR wants to tell users about.

Be clear. As simple as possible for readers to understand what they need to do to get involved. Give them the exact information they need, when they need it, along with opportunities to learn more.


The NIHR is one of the world’s leading health research systems. This is evidenced in the positive impact of that our research and delivers and that’s why top researchers want to work and train with the NIHR.

Content must:

Demonstrate impact: Focus on the tangible benefits that NIHR research has to improve lives, the health and social care system and wider society.

Be human: Tell the human interest stories that bring the science to life and make an emotional connection with the reader.


The NIHR is a reliable and trustworthy source of new information and evidence about what interventions work and which don’t.

Content must:

Be credible. Maintain accuracy and not overblow or misrepresent the science.

Be understandable and concise. Use simple words and sentences. Avoid jargon.

Writing about the NIHR 

The NIHR is a complex organisation and research has shown that people find it hard to recognise, understand and navigate. By following guidance below, you will help readers to familiarise themselves with the organisation.

Use active voice (we/our/your) when writing about the NIHR and avoid passive voice (NIHR/The NIHR/its). 

Be sure that if using the term ‘we’ the reader will know which team, organisation or group of organisations you are referring to.

Write about the NIHR as a whole, not its various parts

Always talk about the NIHR as a single entity. Do not mention centres, programmes or team names unless it is absolutely necessary.

Yes: The NIHR is looking for patients to take part in a trial.

No: The NIHR Clinical Research Network is looking for patients to take part in a trial.

Yes: The NIHR is funding research into obesity prevention.

No: The NIHR Public Health Research Programme is funding research into obesity prevention.

An exception to this might be where a reader needs to know the name of a centre, programme or team to take the action they require.

  •         If you have a media enquiry, please contact the NIHR press office.
  •         For more information about participating in an NIHR trial, contact the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

Use active voice (we/our/your) when writing web content and avoid passive voice (NIHR/The NIHR/its). 

Be sure that if using the term ‘we’ the reader will know which team, organisation or group of organisations you are referring to.

Writing about NIHR people

When discussing researchers who work for or have been funded by the NIHR, consider using the phrase NIHR-funded researcher, rather than their full title.

Example: NIHR-funded researcher Jane Smith, from Oxford University, explains “…”

Supported by vs funded by

When a project is fully funded by the NIHR you can refer to it as ‘NIHR-funded' (and note that this can be complemented by using the Funded by NIHR logo). 

If a partner organisation has provided a significant proportion of the funding, we should refer to it as ‘co-funded’ by the NIHR.

If the NIHR has not provided any direct funding for the project, but has provided infrastructure or any other kind of support (e.g. expertise), you might refer to it as ‘supported by the NIHR’ (and note that this can be complemented by using the Supported by NIHR logo).

Writing about research

When writing about research we must take care to ensure accuracy and be careful not to oversell the findings of a particular study.

Correlation vs causation

If writing about experimental evidence: Use ‘can reduce’, ‘can boost’ or simply ‘reduces’ or ‘boosts’.

If writing about observational evidence, that can only show correlation not causation: Use ‘might reduce’, ‘may boost’, ‘could harm’ or ‘is associated with increases’.


Some terms which are familiar to a scientific audience, will not be familiar to other readers.

Try to work in explanations for these terms so everyone can understand what they mean.

  • In this cohort study, which looked at lung cancer in a cohort of smokers…
  • In this randomised controlled trial (RCT), in which patients were randomly allocated to receive Drug A or a placebo…
  • In this systematic review, which synthesised medical research on eczema in children…

You can find explanations for a number of terms in this useful glossary.


Related pages

External links

Cardiff University research on health research press releases