Questions From Users of the Manual

Q: I’m not sure when I should use “rheumatologic” vs “rheumatological.”  Is there a subtle difference I don’t know about?

A: The use of “-ic” vs “-ical” is addressed in the Manual on page 396 in the Correct and Preferred Usage chapter.  You’ll note that there are a few instances in which the choice of ending does make a difference in meaning.  With “rheumatologic” vs “rheumatological” I do not believe there is such a difference in meaning and we would be more likely to choose the “-ic” ending for the rationale described on page 396.

Q: I’ve always followed Edie Schwager’s advice in Medical English Usage and Abusage (p 153):

If you remember to prevent, you’ll never choose the obsolete “preventative” instead of “preventive.”  The noun is prevention, not “preventation.”

Do you agree?

A: We agree with Edie.  We also prefer preventiveWebster’s 11th edition shows the 2 words as equal in meaning but shows a preference for preventive as well.  Consensus!

Q: In section 3.15.3 of the Manual, the words “Web site” are used in examples 1 through 3 and 6, but are not used in examples 4 and 5.  What is the rationale for these differences?

A: This is an excellent question and points out an inconsistency that should be corrected.  I would include “Web site” in examples 4 and 5 as well.  In our next edition, I think we will need to consider if the inclusion of “Web site” is necessary or helpful.  In the current edition, we decided to drop the inclusion of “Available from:” before the URL as we thought that URLs were now well enough known that they did not need this extra identifier.  Perhaps this will also become the case with “Web site.”

Q: When an author’s surname includes 2 names not joined by a hyphen, which name should be included in the reference citation?

A: To assist in answering this question, I consulted Lou Knecht, Deputy Chief, Bibliographic Services Division, at the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  She said that the surname is determined by the preference of the author and she stressed the important role played by the author in presenting this information clearly to the publisher. Publishers also play an important role in clarifying the surname, for example, by using some  typographic device (eg, boldface on the author’s surname in the byline or in the table of contents) to make clear which is the surname.  She notes, “If the journal does not use some sort of surname indicator technique, then both the journal and NLM are left to make their best guesses.  And we frequently guess wrong.”   If NLM is contacted by an author to correct an incorrect surname (ie, the name is presented in direct order in the text and you cannot tell what the surname is), they will gladly do this.  They also monitor authors’ preferences for surname, so once NLM is contacted the first time about an incorrect surname, they enter the complicated surname into a table for the future.  If, however, the surname is published incorrectly, this requires an erratum.—Cheryl Iverson, MA

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