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What Is a 'Practical' Clinical Journal?

Alfred Soffer, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1980;140(11):1419. doi:10.1001/archinte.1980.00330220007004.
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Acontrolled-circulation periodical that features reviews of diagnosis and therapy in internal medicine recently published an advertisement that declared that journals of clinical investigation offer primarily "research papers." There is a pejorative ring to the word "research," and indeed the advertisement concludes that the practitioner will find little clinical guidance in these reports. Fortunately, not all is lost, continues the enthusiastic self-endorsement by the publishers of this "nonresearch" periodical, since their articles can provide practical guidance for the busy practitioner!

This view is a gross misinterpretation of the functions of journals that publish original clinical studies. Are digests of current research or review articles in diagnosis and therapy the only practical articles in internal medicine? Certainly, we publish special departments with a comparable content such as GRAND ROUNDS, CLINICAL REVIEWS, and brief expositions of therapy. However, it would be a serious error to believe that the clinical investigations that comprise more


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