Quiz Yourself

Number needed to treat (NNT) is the number of patients who must be treated with an intervention for a specific period to prevent 1 bad outcome or result in 1 good outcome. What is the reciprocal of the NNT? Use your mouse to highlight the answer:

Absolute risk reduction, which is the proportion in the control group experiencing an event minus the proportion in the intervention group experiencing an event, is the reciprocal of the NNT.

See §20.9 for a Glossary of Statistical Terms.—Laura King, MA, MFA, ELS

Quiz Yourself

There are 5 instances of jargon in the following sentence. Can you identify them all?

The patient’s physical exam findings were unremarkable and her labs were in the normal range, so she was released from the emergency room and prepped for surgery.

Highlight below for the answer:

The patient’s physical examination findings were unremarkable and her laboratory test results were in the reference range, so she was released from the emergency department and prepared for surgery.

Words and phrases that can be understood in conversation but are vague, confusing, or depersonalizing are generally inappropriate in formal scientific writing. See §11.4 of the AMA Manual of Style for a list of jargon.—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Yourself

A scientist develops data while working at Harvard University. She then moves to Stanford University, where she publishes an article using the original data in JAMA. Who owns the data?

a. Harvard University
b. Stanford University
c. Scientist
d. JAMA

Use your mouse to highlight the answer:   Harvard University

In scientific research, 3 primary arenas exist for ownership of data: the government, the commercial sector, and academic or private institutions or foundations. Although an infrequent occurrence, when data are developed by a scientist without a relationship to a government agency, a commercial entity, or an academic institution, the data are owned by that scientist. Any information produced by an office or employee of a government agency in the course of his or her employment is owned by the government. Data produced by employees in the commercial sector (eg, a pharmaceutical, device, or biotechnology company, health insurance company, or for-profit hospital or managed care organization) are most often governed by the legal relationship between the employee and the commercial employer, granting all rights of data ownership and control to the employer. According to guidelines established by Harvard University in 1988 and subsequently adopted by other US academic institutions, data developed by employees of academic institutions are owned by the institutions (§5.6.1, Ownership and Control of Data, pp 179-183 in print).—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Yourself

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

We conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

OR

We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

ANSWER:

We conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

When fewer than 3 modifiers are used, avoid adding a comma if the modifiers and the noun are read as one entity, such as randomized placebo-controlled trial.—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Yourself

Do you know the difference between the terms multivariable and multivariate? One term refers to multiple predictors (independent variables) for a single outcome (dependent variable), and the other term refers to 1 or more independent variables for multiple outcomes? Which is which?

ANSWER:

Multivariable refers to multiple predictors (independent variables) for a single outcome (dependent variable). Multivariate refers to 1 or more independent variables for multiple outcomes. Therefore, analyses can be described as multivariable, to indicate the number of predictors, or as multivariate, to indicate the type of outcome.—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Yourself

Edit the following sentence for correct usage of anatomy terms:

 

The investigators examined catheter-induced lesions of the right heart.

 

Highlight for the answer:
The investigators examined catheter-induced lesions of the right side of the heart.

Editor’s Note: Authors often err in referring to anatomical regions or structures as the “right heart,” “left chest,” “left neck,” and “right brain.” Generally these terms can be corrected by inserting a phrase such as “part of the” or “side of the” (§11.6, Anatomy, p 410 in print).—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Yourself

Edit the following sentence to eliminate jargon:

A 78-year-old woman with a congenital heart and a history of high blood pressure and heart attack was admitted to the hospital and prepped for surgery.

Highlight for the answer:

A 78-year-old woman with congenital heart disease and a history of high blood pressure and myocardial infarction was admitted to the hospital and prepared for surgery.

Editor’s Note: A heart is not congenital; the preferred terminology is congenital heart disease or congenital cardiac anomaly. Myocardial infarction, not heart attack, is the preferred term. Patients are prepared, not prepped, for surgery (§11.4, Jargon, pp 408-410 in print). Some of these terms may be acceptable for certain types of writing; peer-reviewed medical journals generally avoid them.—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Yourself

Correct the grammar error in the following sentence:

We performed a quantitative overview of randomized trials which tested β-blockers in myocardial infarction, heart failure, and hypertension.

Highlight for the answer:

We performed a quantitative overview of randomized trials that tested β-blockers in myocardial infarction, heart failure, and hypertension.

Incorrect use of relative pronoun (which vs that) (§7.2.2, Relative Pronouns, pp 317-319 in print). That introduces a phrase that is essential to the meaning of the sentence, and which introduces a phrase that adds more information but is not essential to the meaning. Which should always be preceded by a comma. Another example: “He visited the new hospital, which had been built last year” is correct. However, if there were 2 hospitals and only 1 had been built last year, the sentence would read, “He visited the new hospital that had been built last year.”—Laura King, ELS

Quiz Bowl: Ophthalmology Terms

Do you know the difference between disk and disc? What about vision and visual acuity? Or conjunctival hyperemia and conjunctival injection? That’s right, this month we’re talking about ophthalmology!

The AMA Manual of Style has an informative section on ophthalmology terms (§15.13). The section defines terms commonly used in radiology literature and offers instruction on how to use these terms correctly. Some of the terms addressed in the section are fovea, macula, lid, and orbit, as well as several acuity terms.

See if you can identify the problem(s) in the following sentence from this month’s quiz:

At initial presentation, her best-corrected visual acuity was 20/30 in each eye. Five weeks later, while taking 40 mg of prednisone, she reported no improvement in her vision, and her best-corrected visual acuity remained at 20/30 OU.

Highlight for the answer:

At initial presentation, her best-corrected visual acuity was 20/30 OU. Five weeks later, while taking 40 mg of prednisone, she reported no improvement in her vision, and her best-corrected visual acuity remained at 20/30 OU.

The abbreviations OD (right eye), OS (left eye), and OU (each eye) may be used without expansion only with numbers, eg, 20/25 OU, or descriptive assessments of acuity. Note that OU does not mean both eyes, although it is often used incorrectly to imply a vision measurement (eg, visual acuity or visual field) with both eyes at the same time (§15.13, Ophthalmology Terms, pp 736-739 in print).

That’s just a glimpse of what we have to offer in this month’s quiz on ophthalmology terms. If you’re a subscriber, check out the complete quiz at www.amamanualofstyle.com.—Laura King, MA, ELS

 

Quiz Bowl: Web References

Recently, a user of the AMA Manual of Style wrote to us with questions about how to edit web references. As we worked to answer her questions, we discovered that although the manual provides instructions and examples for editing web references, the task can often make an editor feel like the proverbial fly trapped in the web of the spider.

One reason for this feeling is that it is often difficult to discern the types of materials available on websites. For example, delineating between authors and publishers as well as books or reports and journal-type articles can be challenging. Therefore, this month’s Style Book Quiz is on editing web references. Answers have been determined by extrapolating from the information in the AMA Manual of Style.

 As an introduction to the full quiz, edit the following web reference:

Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents, Department of Health and Human Services. http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf. Accessed October 30, 2014.

Highlight for the answer: Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services. http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf. Accessed October 30, 2014.

Often government reports provide a suggested citation format. In this case, the suggested citation (as indicated on the bottom of the title page of the report) is as follows: Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf. Section accessed [insert date] [insert page number, table number, etc, if applicable].

This style is close to AMA style and can be adapted to it by removing “Available at” and adding “US” before “Department of Health and Human Services.” In addition, one of the questions that arises with web publications is whether to style a title as a book title (initial capital letters and italicized type) or journal title (only the first word of the title capitalized and roman type). According to the AMA Manual of Style (§3.15.5), government/organization reports “are treated much like electronic journal and book references: use journal style for articles and book style for monographs.” In this case, the manuscript is a 282-page PDF document, so it is appropriate to style the title as a book title. Because the manuscript contains no publication date, this information cannot be included in the reference.

The full quiz (available to subscribers at www.amamanualofstyle.com) provides more examples of web material that may be difficult to reference. Can we tempt you to try? Or as the spider said to the fly, “Will you walk into my parlour?”1Laura King, MA, ELS

 

Reference

  1. Howitt M. The Spider and the Fly. http://famousliteraryworks.com/howitt_the_spider_and_the_fly_funny.htm. Accessed December 10, 2014.