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 4 December 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.

Think before you use an adverb. [NEXT SLIDE]

We often use adverbs in scientific writing – we think they enrich or make our writing have more impact.

And here are examples of adverbs used appropriately: “this opinion is commonly held” or “this method has not been rigorously tested”

But we tend to overuse adverbs. Beware using adverbs that provide a vague intensification such as: fairly, quite, rather, somewhat. [NEXT SLIDE]

In the sentence: “we found that treatment X was considerably more effective than treatment Y” – well, X may be more effective than Y … but in whose opinion or by whose standard was it “considerably“ better – is this a fact or fact or just opinion?

Beware using dubious adverbs such as “extremely, entirely, highly, generally” – do you need these adverbs? [NEXT SLIDE]

‘Very’ is perhaps the most overused adverb. It was probably Mark Twain that said ‘Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”, your editor will delete it and the writing should be just as it should be’. [NEXT SLIDE]

So, what do you think your editor will do in this sentence?

We hope our preliminary findings will provide damn useful information for the design of larger studies on a global scale.

So, think before you use an adverb – do you ‘really’ need it?

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

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[For the avoidance of doubt: this video is intended to be freely accessible to all. Please feel free to share and use however you like. Cheers Peter Llewellyn, Director NetworkPharma Ltd and Founder of the MedComms Networking Community activity at http://www.medcommsnetworking.com]