Abbreviations

One ophthalmologist sent me a consultation letter saying that she was go­ing to do HRT on a patient. Another ophthalmologist wrote that our patient has CME. In my dialect, HRT is hormone replacement therapy, and CME is continuing medical education. I have to write a letter to the specialist to find out what he or she means.

One of my professors disliked abbreviations and told the following story: A man ran toward a bus stop as the bus pulled up and got on just in time. Panting, he sat down beside a woman and said, “TGIF.” She looked at him and said, “Ess aitch eye tee.” Taken aback, the man said, “I’m sorry, I guess you didn’t know what I said. I said, “TGIF.” That means, “Thank God it’s Friday.” The woman said, “I know that. What I said was, “Sorry honey, it’s Thursday.”

Please, if you are writing to someone who is not in your specialty, write out in full any technical term (TT) the first time, before you use the abbreviation for the TT on its own.
—Robert Shepherd, MD
Victoria

Robert Shepherd, MD. Abbreviations. BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 10, December, 2010, Page(s) 500 - Letters.



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

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