Jargonized Writing

Scientific groups often use their own jargons that may well be understood by the members of such groups. However, authors are often unaware that no one outside their group uses these terms. This applies just as much to abbreviations and acronyms that are not commonly understood. Let us consider an example:

^ Values of CV varied considerably.

What does CV stand for? The abbreviation can mean several different things, such as cardiovascular, coefficient of variation, or even curriculum vitae.

If you have the slightest doubt as to whether a term is commonly used, avoid the expression or use the full term instead. It may be helpful to consult the international scientific literature when trying to establish whether the scientific community uses a certain term or not.

In clinical reporting, we tend to find some typical errors that come about by using jargons, careless language, or simply an inappropriate term. Table 6.3 shows some examples.

Table 6.3 Typical Clinical Jargons and Other Examples of Careless Writing

JARGON OR CARELESS WRITING

CORRECT

The patient was discontinued because of an AE.

The patient was withdrawn from the study because of an adverse event. Or (better because active voice): The patient discontinued the study because of an adverse event.

The patient was randomized to receive a dose of 4 pg min1.

The patient was randomly allocated to a dose of 4 pg min1.

Or: The patient was allocated at random to a dose of 4 pg min1.

Local tolerance of the topical antifungal cream was poor.

Local tolerability of the topical antifungal cream was poor.

By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.

By the time he was admitted, his heartbeat had slowed, and he was feeling better.

She left her red blood cells at another hospital.

She left the records of her red blood cell counts at another hospital.

Effectiveness and tolerance of the 5% ibuprofen gel were assessed on 20 healthy volunteers in this study.

This study assessed the efficacy and tolerability of the 5% ibuprofen gel in 20 healthy volunteers.

The difference between the two dose groups was statistically insignificant.

The difference between the two dose groups was not statistically significant.

The recommended dosage was 500 mg.

The recommended dose was 500 mg. Or: The recommended dosage was 500 mg once daily.

Appendix 10.5 provides a rather light-hearted interpretation of common jargons in scientific texts. Do take the "translation" of these examples with a pinch of salt!

Q Resist the temptation to use jargon in scientific writing. Always apply your common sense before adopting a term from others.

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