Thomas M. Schindler, PhD
Statistics Section Editor (with many other interests)
Ten years are no time at all. Well not exactly no time, but not much (although it’s about 1/8 of your lifetime [if you live in the United States]). Still, one would hope that things that were good 10 years ago are still good today. To find out, I checked an issue of the AMWA Journal from 10 years ago—the autumn issue of 2008 (V23, N3)—and looked for articles that have stood the test of time. I was not the least bit surprised to find at least 3 articles that remain very worthwhile 10 years after they were published.
Consider an article by Mary E. Knatterud titled “With Respect to Patients and Readers: Deadly Terms to Excise” (pp 113-117) that has lost nothing of its relevance. Mary identifies 7 patient-unfriendly terms and 7 reader-unfriendly terms that we should avoid in medical writing. Given the current focus on patients in clinical research, it could be reprinted as is!
Scott A. Mogull’s “Chronology of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Regulation in the United States” (pp 106-110) summarizes the history of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations until 2008. This window onto the FDA’s 100-year history on regulating advertisements for drugs provides a good vantage point through which to view the more recent regulations of 2012 to 2018.
And, last but not least, at the time, Edie Schwager’s unsurpassed “Dear Edie” column (pp 139-141) authoritatively answered the many questions of word usage, grammar, and punctuation put to her by fellow medical writers.
Oh! And while you’re looking through the issue, don’t forget to read “Melnick on Writing” (p 138) in which Arnold Melnick brings home the story of “It’s…Its”.
Well, with this I must stop. Have a look yourself—much of this issue of the Journal is still good as gold, even 10 years later.