Failed publications: the medical modelBMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7155.420 (Published 08 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:420
Why are so many medical reports and newsletters written in pseudoscientific gobbledygook? Tim Albert considers these sad creations
- Tim Albert
- trainer in written communication and visiting fellow in medical writing at the Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development
Next time you see a newsletter or an annual report from a distinguished medical body, look for the anodyne bureaucratic phrases and the pseudoscientific gobbledygook, the pompous initial capitals, and the photo booth “repertory company” photographs. Then reflect that in all probability a lot of highly paid academics put in a lot of expensive hours making the publication that bad.
Earlier this year I gave up that part of my business which produced newsletters for medical and academic organisations. While most of my clients were charming, stimulating, and able, they were working within a culture that encouraged a type of behaviour that has serious implications for the relation between medicine and the media.
The story invariably goes something like this. …