Good Scientific Writing

Charles G. Roland, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1969;123(1):100. doi:10.1001/archinte.1969.00300110102020.
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Anew feature begins in this issue of the Archives. Each month we will reprint scientific articles or portions of articles which seem well written. This material will appear regularly on advertising pages 11, 12, and 14.

My search for these articles began several years ago when participants in American Medical Association-Education and Research Foundation medical writing seminars asked for models to follow in their writing. There exists no convenient source, no collection, of good scientific prose; we hope the new section will help supply this want.

What is good scientific writing? No answer to this question can satisfy all inquirers, for goodness is always a subjective quality. Although part of the goodness of good writing comes from the absence of errors, correctness does not itself guarantee goodness.

The purpose of scientific writing is to convey information, not display literary innovation. There is no place in scientific prose for the stylistic


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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