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Existing glossaries

There are a lot of words and terms about clinical research that may be new to you. This section directs you to existing glossaries that can help you in case you wish to search for terms that are not found above. 

Websites - Professionals

  • The clinicaltrials.gov has created a glossary to help you understand words and phrases frequently used on ClinicalTrials.gov. Read it here.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created a glossary on clinical trials, giving a special highlight on medication/drug related terms. Read it here.
  • CenterWatch has created an extensive glossary on clinical trials where you can find definitions rarely found elsewhere. Read it here.
  • The Mary Crowley Cancer Research has created a glossary to help you understand Cancer related terminology. Read it here
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has created a glossary to help you understand words frequently used in Health Research. Read it here.
  • The Alberta Clinical Research Consortium (ACRC) has created a very extensive glossary about clinical research. Read it here.
  • The Global Pharmacovigilance has created a glossary of Drug safety terms. You may find it helpful when dealing with drug/medicine related studies. Read it here.  
  • The Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) has created an extensive glossary about clinical trials. The terms may be searched for using the NCI Code, CDISC Submission Value or the Codelist Name. Read it here.
  • The RegMedNet has created a glossary of cell and gene therapy and regenerative medicine to help you understand the terminology related to this topic. Read it here.

Websites – Family friendly

  • The National Health Institute (NIH) has created a short glossary of the more commonly used clinical trials words and terms. Read it here.
  • Novartis has created an easy-to-read glossary of words and terms about clinical trials that might be knew to you. Read it here.
  • Caduceus, a non-profit organization, has created a English-German glossary to help you understand terminology on clinical trials and overcome language barriers. Read it here.
  • The International Myeloma Foundation has created a very short glossary on key terms associated with clinical trials. Read it here.
  • Clinical Trials and me has created an extensive glossary on all things related to health care. From health disorders to medications, from common procedures to rare diseases, and many other topics can be found there. Read it here.
  • The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has created a health care related glossary, with special emphasis on health care regulation terminology. Read it here.
  • The Global Health Trials has created a glossary on some common terms used in clinical research that can be useful for you to understand terminology used in clinical trials. Read it here.
  • The Health Innovation, Investment and Research Office (HIIRO) of the Queensland Government has created a glossary of terms and acronyms that can help you understand clinical trials terminology. Read it here.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has created a glossary providing brief definitions and explanations of terms used on their website. Read it here.
  • The Ohio State University has created a list of common abbreviations and a glossary of terms related to good clinical research practice. Read it here.
  • The Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists has created a glossary on words used in hospitals and their meaning. Read it here. Also available in French here.
  • The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) has created a glossary of terms and concepts that is divided into several categories such as: Associations, Agencies, Organizations; Pharmacy; Regulatory, Ethical Issues (amongst others). Read it here.
  • For help with medical terms, not necessarily related to clinical trials, the MedlinePlus has created a thorough encyclopedia about diseases, tests, symptoms, injuries, and surgeries that you may find useful. Read it here.


The following resources are meant to help you learn and understand more about clinical trials than just their terminology. Even so, you can also find some short glossaries and acronyms in most of them.

  • EORTC has made a booklet about Cancer Clinical Trials but it has very good and easy to read information about clinical trials in general. Read it here.
  • The UK Trial Managers’ Network (UKTMN) has created a guide to efficient trial management. In there you can find commonly used terms and acronyms as well as a section about Understanding Clinical Trials, amongst other relevant topics on clinical trials. Read it here.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has made a Clinical Trials Guide where you can find relevant information and some definitions of words about clinical trials. You may find it useful if you are considering enrolling in a clinical trial. Read it here. It has also created a PDF about understanding clinical trials to help you understand the principles of a clinical trial. Read It here.
  • Biogen has created a Guide aimed at patients and their families that may help you get started on learning about clinical trials. Read it here.
  • The Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) has made a guide with information for parents and careers of a child or young person with cancer. Nevertheless, it has general information about clinical trials that may be useful for you, even if you are not their targeted public. Read it here.
  • The Cancer Council has created a guide on Understanding Clinical Trials and research that may be useful to anyone considering enrolling on a clinical trial, even if you are not affected by cancer. Read It here.
  • Lungevity has made a guide where you can find important questions and answers related to clinical trials as well as a glossary. It has general information on clinical trials and specific information on lung cancer. Read It here.
  • Clinical trials Explained has developed a dynamic guide where you can find simplified and easy to read information about clinical trials. Find it here. There you can also find a section with a small but illustrative glossary.


We suggest watching these videos if you want to have a better understanding about the main words or phrases used in clinical trials or would like audible and visual aid to the glossaries.

  • Deciding to participate in clinical trials by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
  • The Gold Standard: What are randomized controlled trials and why are they important? by the Medical Research Council.

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Author

Bruna Henriques from Sci and Volunteer Program Nova School of Science and Technology 2021.

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Page modified at Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - 16:50