John Dixon, independent medical writer and trainer in scientific writing skills, provides a useful tip for medical writers who work in MedComms.

John’s Linkedin page is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndixonlmm/

John’s web page is at https://librasciencecomms.co.uk

Note these “bites” are recorded online using the zoom.us platform and hence quality may be affected by variability in internet connectivity and quality of webcams. The tips, however, are always first class!

Recorded 22 November 2018. Produced by NetworkPharma.tv

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Transcript

Hi, I’m John Dixon, a trainer in scientific writing, and here’s a bite that I hope may help you with your writing.

Avoid long noun-adjective strings [NEXT SLIDE]

Consider the sentence… “The working group studied asthma self-management plan acceptability.”

Get the meaning?… not easy on a first read is it? This is a noun-adjective string… one or several nouns and several adjectives strung together. The author knows exactly what it means, but has cut out as many words as possible in an effort to be concise. Unfortunately, the result is a very unhelpful sentence that requires the reader to re-read the sentence at least once. [NEXT SLIDE]

The author should have written: “The working group studied the acceptability of self-management plans in people with asthma.”

Aha… now we get it!

In its section on how to write a paper, nature.com states: “… use of several adjectives to qualify one noun in highly technical language can be confusing to readers. We encourage authors to “unpackage” concepts and to present their findings… in simply constructed sentences.

Your readers will thank you for taking Nature Journals’ advice!

I hope that’s helpful. For more bites to help your writing, visit networkpharma.tv.

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