Research Article

Style in medical journals.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 15 October 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:1122
  1. D E Adams Smith


    A study of medical journals from 1962 showed a constant preoccupation with style. Editors and contributors on both sides of the Atlantic revile unnecessary obscurity and complexity and the use of jargon, barbarisms, vogue words, and weak impersonal constructions. They bewail the pompous use of verbiage and the "medspeak" typified by acronyms and neologisms created by affixation. Suggestions for possible causes of poor medical style range from editorial demands for compression and a general ignorance of the principles of good writing to faulty logic and the subordination of communication to status seeking. The consequences of bad writing may include the fragmentation of knowledge, an increase in the importance of abstracting services, a trend towards free glossy medical newspapers, and, as remedial measures, workshops and courses in medical writing. Some implications for English language teachers working with foreign medical graduates and preclinical students are discussed.