Lateral thinking

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 14 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:0

In a quotation beloved of journalists, Mark Twain wrote, “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” That it takes more effort to write briefly is perhaps why many authors struggle with our short reports—which demand that the story be told in 600 words plus a table or figure. A few readers (mainly epidemiologists) worry that their brevity doesn't allow adequate descriptions of methods. But others like them simply because they are short—and they are useful for presenting simple studies with simple findings. …

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