Intended for healthcare professionals


Shall I compare thee to a…Big game animal?Ship?World Cup football team?Navigator on a foggy night?Car?Spice?Breakfast cereal?

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1733

Shall I compare thee to a…

The five largest general medical journals like to refer to themselves as “the big five.” This reminded Nairobi surgeon Imre Loefler of Africa's five big game animals, and he set about exploring the similarities in more detail. Next came ships. Given the opportunity for harmless fun and the chance to exact public revenge, we thought that other people might like to play this game, so we invited entries from visitors to our website (and one or two others). To Loefler's big game animals and ships were added cars, football teams, and Spice Girls. Taken together, they probably say more about the wellsprings of the male imagination than about medical journals. The game need not end here—submit your five-pack using the “rapid response” option on our website.

Big game animal?

  1. Imre Loefler, editor
  1. Nairobi Hospital Proceedings Nairobi Kenya
  2. Nairobi Hospital ProceedingsNairobiKenya
  3. Croatian Medical JournalZagrebCroatia
  4. American College of PhysiciansChattanoogaTennesseeUSA
  5. Department of Respiratory MedicineStobhill NHS TrustGlasgow
  6. BMJ
  7. Group Health of Puget SoundPort OrchardWashingtonUSA

    I am well acquainted with both the big five medical journals and the big five game animals, having spent much time in their company. I have learnt from them, I cherish and admire them, and I appreciate the differences in their character. Why not match the two groups in pairs since animals have always been used as symbols for institutions?

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    Watch out! Like the elephant JAMA is a poor converter of food

    JAMA is undoubtedly the elephant, and not only because of its size. It is dominant and loud, ranging over a huge territory, within which, however, it commutes on well trodden paths. It can do a lot of damage by pushing, shoving, and trampling, and ultimately it can devastate its own environment. It is a poor converter of food, and many other species thrive on its droppings. It has stamina, it is gregarious and supportive, and it has the wisdom of the conservative kind. It has a good memory. It revisits fruiting trees regularly. It can survive drought by adapting to meagre food …

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