Review: Medical Writing: A Guide for Clinicians, Educators, and Researchers

Medical Writing: A Guide for Clinicians, Educators, and Researchers Medical Writing: A Guide for Clinicians, Educators, and Researchers by Robert B. Taylor My rating: 4 of 5 stars




What I most like:
• I did not know that medical writing is also a problem for native speakers. This book quickly gave me this conclusion. In addition, I now know that medical writing is a long process and one need a lot of time and effort to master it. Therefore, it is no wonder, as a non-native English speaker, that I am having problems in writing my first papers. Finally, I also concluded that writing a manuscript could not be finished in few days and by one person (I am not to be blamed then!).
• The book mentions real life examples from published papers. I wished they were more.
• The book have tables that summarize information regarding certain topics. For examples, “The origins of selected medical words,” p. 54. In addition, some common mistakes and corrections. 
• I like the author’s enthusiasm about the Etymology of words. I am a big enthusiast too. I think this is reflected in how detailed the author supports his points of view.

What I most dislike:
• I found many words and expressions in this book very hard to understand. I had to use the dictionary a lot. I would not say that I read a lot in English since years and think my English is good. This is very subjective. In comparison with “English for Writing Research Papers,” by Adrian Wallwork (…), I used the dictionary to look up new words at least 10 times more. I think this is ironic as the author warns against using hard words and expression. Moreover, I think that the greatest majority of those interested to read a book on medical writing would be people with English as their second language. Would it not be a good idea to use simple and commoner words? Examples of hard words include:

– “… Take ear infection, example, which most would describe as a mundane topic…”, p. 13.==> What does mundane means? One of the nice methods advocated by the author is to use the Microsoft Word Thesaurus. I have Microsoft 2010 and it gave me the following suggestions: “Ordinary, dull, routine, every day, commonplace,… among others.” Is not one or two of these words beautiful substitutes?
– “The review article is the Rodney Dangerfield of medical writing. Review articles get no respect, even though, as discussed in Chap. 5, they are often indexed and counted in calculating a journal’s Impact Factor…” To be like Rodney Dongerfiled? I do not have time to look who this person is and what it is supposed to mean if something is like him. This kind of expressions and hard words delayed my reading speed.
– “I think that highest accolades go to those case reports that change what we do in practice. p. 162” Accolades? 

• The title of the book is a little bit different than the content. Although the title contains “medical writing”, the concentration on writing in the book is little. I think that chapter two mostly address tips on writing. I wish that it was longer and it was more detailed. For example, the tables in it that mention wrong and correct pairs are amazing but unfortunately short. Nonetheless, this is somewhat understood as the book provides an overall view of the whole process of what to from what to do in case you had the idea of a research to getting your writing published. Adrian Wallwork’s English for Writing research papers is deficient in this late point, but without argument, much stronger in teaching writing skills. For this purpose, I highly recommend “English for Writing Research Papers”.

• I think that some technical recommendations needs to be updated. For example, the author dangerously says, ” The disadvantages [of EndNote Program] are cost (currently $299 for the full product) and the steep learning curve facing the new user. The program is not “intuitive” and the online instructions are challenging… EndNote software is great for experienced and prolific medical authors, especially if compiling long lists of citations.” However, in my opinion, beginning medical authors should use my more primitive “cut and paste” method, and spend their energy learning how to be better writers.” I think that the time wasted using the traditional “cut and paste” method in a writer’s first research is enough for him to learn using EndNote. However, I understand that the book was written in 2011 and referencing program might not have been famous back then. Moreover, the author wrote in page 7: “Not too many years ago, I was highly dependent on secretarial support; I dictated my articles and made corrections by hand to be changed on computer by my typist.” Therefore, Dr. Taylor reminds me of some old professors of me at medical school who found some “mundane” tasks in computer to be very hard simply because they started using computers at an old age. Finally, there are now many free professional alternatives to EndNote. The most famous one of them in my opinion is Mendely (

To sum up, the book is amazing because it gives a whole overview of the writing and publication process. However, I find some words and expressions in it very hard to quickly understand. I hope that it would be taken into consideration that many non-Native speakers will read such a book. The strongest advantage of this book is that it gives real-life examples from published papers. I hope that more will be given in future editions. Finally, I hope that more concentration will be given to writing skills. View all my reviews

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