Dr Wilson: you wrote, “I don’t know how the rest of you deal with the office chaos that results from irresponsible reporting in the lay press” [BCMJ 2008;50(1):9].
I try to nip it in the bud by correcting it; I write a letter to the editor.
From time to time one or two of the local papers have published a poorly researched or misleading article (e.g., “If the public health authorities wanted to reduce deaths, they would fund research into lung cancer, not pay for the HPV vaccine,” or “the superbug is community acquired.”)
I replied with a polite clarification (“the HPV vaccine is worthwhile,” and “superbugs arise from overuse of antibiotics,”) and my letters have been published. A couple of patients have commented positively about my letters.
Not everyone has had scientific training, but most people are willing to learn. Editors are happy to consider a polite and informative letter, and I would suggest that doctors write to them.
—Robert Shepherd, MDCM
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:
- Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
- There is no period after the journal name.
- Page numbers are not abbreviated.
For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org