Book review – Medical Writing: A guide for clinicians, educators and researchers.

Taylor_ Medical Writing-1Medical Writing: A guide for clinicians, educators and researchers [Second edition]. By Robert B. Taylor. This review was written by Dr Justin Coleman, AMWA President, and was first published in Australian Family Physician, Vol 41, No8, p 638, Aug 2012. Reproduced with permission.

For the medical reader journeying to the ‘input’ side of a publication, Medical Writing makes a fine companion.

Medical Writing falls somewhere between a discursive read and a reference guide. The first five
chapters warrant thorough attention, covering not only the essential tool kit of word use, paragraph structure and technical aspects, but also answering the fundamental questions ‘What should I write?’ and ‘How do I start?’ The arduous journey from blank computer screen to reading your name in print should be hugely rewarding.

Later chapters cover specific aspects of medical writing such as research, letters to the editor and book chapters, possibly best dipped into as a reference when occasion demands. The internet earns a mention only as a writing tool, not a destination, so medical writers curious about publishing online will remain unenlightened.

Taylor’s conversational style conjures images of a friendly grandfather dispensing wisdom and
encouragement to his fledgelings. No topic escapes a sprinkling of gentle humour; his application of Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief to the receipt of a rejection letter lightens the mood during that grim moment of loss familiar to every writer. As Taylor says, his substantive credential as an author is not his hundreds of published chapters and articles, but the fact that he has ‘made all the errors’ and copped the rejection letters before us.

I found myself busily earmarking pages with particularly apposite quotes or advice. It’s no trouble mentally correcting Americanisms such as, ‘Do not call an anesthesiologist an an[a]esthetist,’ particularly when his final pearl is a beauty: aspiring writers should join the [Australasian] Medical Writers Association!

Justin Coleman
President, Australasian Medical Writers Association

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