Master of the clinical trial

The boy was a good student but tended to coast at times. When he took biology in Grade 9, he barely passed his first exam. Salim, you can do so much better, his teacher told him. You are being lazy. Accepting the implied challenge, the young pupil decided to show his teacher just how much better he could do. He studied hard, and not just the curriculum. He got his hands on university textbooks and studied them too. On the next test, he received an extraordinarily good mark.

You see, Salim, his teacher said. Just look what you are capable of.

Real-World Research

We are all familiar with the short list of life’s inevitables. Death, taxes and that’s about it. Well, not really. Let’s consider a third item. In addition to paying taxes and propping up the casket industry, you also—without question, no matter who you are, no matter where you live—use the bathroom. So does your spouse. And your neighbours. And your co-workers. And everyone else in Ottawa, in Ontario, in Canada, in every developed country on earth. Void, flush, gone—multiply by several billion, repeat again and again, forever.

Here’s something many don’t do: think about what occurs after you flush. Why would you? It’s not your problem. But it is a problem—a very big and very expensive problem.

Wartime advances in trauma care are coming back to help civilians

He knew the homeowner possessed firearms, not that it worried him. In Colorado, a police officer nervous to visit a home with a gun was in the wrong line of work.

Officer Jonathan Key flicked off his patrol car’s headlights and slowed down as he neared the brick duplex on West Jewell Place. He planned to stop short of the home, four houses or so back, and walk the rest of the way. But before he had a chance to park, he heard a loud pop-pop-pop. Then all he could see were sparks and dust.

A call for clarity and quality in medical writing

Words matter in science that matters. Far too often, however, the words in medical literature are chosen and arranged without enough care. This leads to confusing, jargon-filled writing that is difficult to read, even for medical researchers.

Not only is careless writing a barrier to publication, it makes it more difficult for peers to understand and build on other researchers’ work. Poor communication limits the impact of medical research, so clinicians and patients ultimately suffer as well. Vague and ambiguous clinical practice guidelines, for example, have been linked to medical errors and inconsistent interpretation.

Writing about complex medical research in plain language is challenging. Technical terms, acronyms and jargon, although used too frequently, cannot be avoided entirely. But the benefits — improved knowledge translation, less research waste — are too great for needlessly complicated writing to be accepted as inevitable.