Readability of British and American medical prose

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7391.711 (Published 29 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:711

Why are unreadable articles still being written?

  1. Mark Hochhauser (MarkH38514@aol.com), readability consultant
  1. 3344 Scott Avenue North, Golden Valley, MN 55422, USA
  2. Tim Albert Training, Dorking, Surrey RH14 1QT
  3. Dianthus Medical Limited, London SW19 3TZ

    EDITOR—The article by Weeks and Wallace is yet another of many articles over the past 20 years showing that medical information (such as journal articles, informed consent forms) is written in an “unreadable” writing style.1 Although such articles are interesting, no more research on the topic is needed as any future studies will come to the same conclusion.

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    The issue that should be studied is why, after so many years of so much readability research, so many articles are still so badly written. Readability findings seem to have no impact on physicians-researchers-writers.

    Why are journal articles written at a “very difficult” level on the Flesch reading ease score? Why can't authors write at a more understandable level? How are researchers trained to write—how many and what kind of writing courses did they take in college? Are researchers …

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