ERIC Number: ED201973
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977
Reference Count: 0
Comparing Stylistic Traits of Two Medical Journals: An Exploration into Factors of Readability.
Vande Kopple, William J.
Excerpts from articles in the "British Medical Journal" and "The American Journal of Medicine" were compared to determine which journal was easier to read and what stylistic traits might account for such ease. Nine paragraphs from the discussion sections of articles on hypertension were taken from each of the journals. When these paragraphs were evaluated by nine people who had little or no prior experience in reading medical journals and ten people who had read medical journals frequently, 14 of the 19 readers indicated that the British paragraphs were easier to read. Further analyses of the sentences and paragraphs showed that the British prose tended to have fewer words before the first subject of the first main clause, fewer words before the first full verb in the first main clause, less use of passives (and fewer "reversible" passives), nominalizations of verbs that were more easily understood and repeated more frequently, and nominalization constructions whose agents were more obvious than those in the American prose. The stylistic difference that was considered most important was the "web of sentence topics" in the paragraphs. Of the 57 topics in British paragraphs, only eight were unrelated to previous topics or information stressed in the immediately preceding sentences. In contrast, the American prose contained 28 unrelated topics within the 64 topics used in the paragraphs. (RL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: American Journal of Medicine; British Medical Journal