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Medical Writing 

In a medical academic paper, there are a few things that should be included. You should include the experiment conducted, the methods, the results, and the conclusion. Along with these, you must remember to have strongly detailed paragraphs, language other scientists can understand, and a formal structure.

A good example of a medical scholarly article is, “Altering Spinal Cord Excitability Enables Voluntary Movements After Chronic Complete Paralysis in Humans” from oxfordjournals.org. This article goes into full detail of an experiment conducted where four patients are unable to use their legs, but after spinal shock therapy are able to. The journal goes in depth into the methods used and how they were interpreted. This article includes the things found in a well-written scientific paper. It uses long, detailed paragraphs with jargon scientists are familiar with, it features graphs displaying the data along with an organized structure. A popular news website, medicalnewstoday.com wrote an article based off of this journal. Instead, it features a video with the patients, short paragraphs with little detail, and does not explain the step-by-step procedures used. This paper is directed more towards a general audience rather than a scientific or medical one. This causes the article to be understood by many, yet wouldn’t be as good of a source for say, a research paper. Each type of writing, popular and academic, comes with its own purpose.

Informative Content

An article such as the one from medicalnewstoday.com, can educate a very broad audience, without making them feel like they’re learning something. This kind of paper relies more on emotion than on informing the reader. Take for example, the video that is included. The video shows one of the patients showing how his shock therapy allows his legs to finally move. He is mentioned by name and it shows a quick demonstration of the procedure. The academic paper does not have a video featuring the patients, but instead publishes many charts and graphs showing how the results are recorded.

Also, instead of mentioning the patients by name, the scholarly journal names the patients Patient B07 or Patient A45. This directs the reader away from a personal relationship with the patient, and instead insists on a more formal and educational relationship. Throughout the journal, there are many words and phrases that the average web-browser would not understand. Scientific jargon such as epidural stimulation, tibialis anterior, or vastus lateralis are used. This is because the article is directed towards an audience that would understand these terms. Unlike the academic paper, the popular source uses easy to understand language and concepts that are easy to grasp. This helps many more people understand the importance, but those with an educational background in medicine are left without enough detail to satisfy.

Scientific Method Structure

An important part of an academic article is its structure. In the journal, there are clearly titled passages that describe the intro, experiment, results, etc. Instead of that, the popular news article features many small paragraphs with bold headings briefly explaining the summary of that paragraph. These jump out to the readers eye, and without even reading the entire article, you can get a quick understanding of the passage just by reading these titles. The paragraphs are short and filled with little detail compared to those of the oxford journal. Here are some examples of each:

Medical News Today:

“The results were even better when electrical stimulation was coupled with physical therapy. The team noticed that the men were progressively able to move their legs with less stimulation, showing that the spine was learning and improving nerve function.”

Oxford Journal:

“We collected EMG, joint angles, and tensile force data at 2000 Hz using a 24-channel hard-wired AD board and custom-written acquisition software (LabView, National Instruments). Bilateral EMG (Motion Lab Systems) from the soleus, tibialis anterior, medial hamstrings, vastus lateralis, adductor magnus, gluteus maximus, and intercostal (sixth rib) muscles was recorded using bipolar surface electrodes with fixed inter-electrode distance (Harkema et al., 1997).”

The difference in these two sections is easy to tell. With more advanced wording, greater amount of information, and citations, it is easy to tell which is the academic article. Speaking of citations, the popular article only gives on citation at the end of the paper, while the academic article uses citation throughout the paper, just like MLA format. At the bottom of the journal, the citations are listed with links to each one, like a works cited page. Another difference that comes into play here is the amount of authors. While the popular article has only one author, the journal is written by four doctors. 

Advice For Upcoming StudentsEdit

As a new student with an interest in the medical sciences, you should learn to write like the passage from the oxford journal. Your structure should be formal and strictly informational, as opposed to an emotional appeal. As you learn more in this field you should gain an understanding of many medical terms, and make sure to use them in your papers often. These terms can have a great effect on your detailing. As well as scientific terms, you should refrain from using patient’s names as that is not only unimportant to the reader, but also can many times be confidential. Also, your paper should loosely follow the scientific method. You should outline your experiment; the methods used, the results gained, and then interpret them in a conclusion. Always make sure to keep your audience in mind. You are not writing to a local newspaper, but rather an established source for scientific information. You should also be sure to include graphs instead of videos or pictures of the patients. This will keep your article strictly informational, which is important in a medical journal. Last but not least, you should make sure to cite your sources often. A good journal builds off of many others, and their contributions should be known. So in conclusion, your medical journals should have a strict formal structure, well detailed paragraphs, informational graphs, citations for your references, and an intent to inform the reader. 


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