Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler When I use a word

Hard data, soft data

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 28 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1692
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Oxford
  1. jeffrey.aronson{at}

What is the opposite of “hard”? There are several different answers (table), but the thesaurus neglects hard and soft data, which are rarely defined and much misunderstood. The implication of the last definition in the table is that soft data are unreliable, but that is not necessarily so.

View this table:

Different meanings of the word “hard” and their antonyms (source Chambers Thesaurus)

The late Alvan Feinstein, erstwhile editor of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, published 57 articles in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and …

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