To the Editor: Although I applaud Dr Brook's broad exhortations to improve prose style and readability of medical research articles, several aspects of his proposed approach strike me as problematic, especially insofar as they risk introducing bias into the research articles he seeks to improve.1
Brook rightly condemned the “bland, somnolent tone” and “flat manner” predominant in medical research articles today. Much of this seems the result of low standards for prose style in this genre and sheer laziness on the part of many scientific writers and editors. Any number of relatively straightforward stylistic changes would help, such as avoiding the current, nearly universal use of the third person and passive voice; minimizing jargon; and putting tired, ubiquitous clichés to rest (“further study is needed” springs to mind).
Baker CJ. Reflecting Emotion With the Science in Research Article Prose. JAMA. 2011;305(11):1094–1096. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.303
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