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March 15, 1976

Crichton's Criticisms

Author Affiliations

Rockport, Md

JAMA. 1976;235(11):1107. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260370017014

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To the Editor.—  A recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (293:1257, 1975) published Michael Crichton's criticisms of attempts at report writing by medical scientists— poor flow of ideas, verbiage, redundancy, repetition, wrong words, poor syntax, excessive abstraction, unnecessary complexity, excessive compression, unnecessary qualification. Readers who do not have access to The New England Journal of Medicine will find an abstract of Crichton's article in the Jan 12, 1976, issue of Time.From what I read in medical journals and from what I see from time to time in your editorial pages, I believe that Crichton's criticisms are justified.As far as I know, Crichton, although he holds an MD degree from Harvard, does not practice medicine nor does he usually write articles for medical journals. He is a highly successful, talented novelist. Would he be equally successful at writing a medical case report? I wager that he