Sunday, 15 July 2007


No this isn't a blog about porn your dirty people (Judging by some of the Google searches which bring people here some people will be disappointed that this isn't porn)

Anyway, hardcore, yes that's me for the last 2 days. And at last I can tick a very large box on my to-do list. My project option/research project is done (when I say done, I mean pending the approval of a complete draft by my supervisor) There maybe minor changes to make, hopefully nothing too important. Now I just have to make a 5 minute presentation about it.

For this deadline I've actually been quite organised. I mean I've had lots of time doing not a lot, but when I've wanted to I've worked bloody hard. Today for instance, I got to the computer cluster at 10:15am and didn't get out of my chair until 8:20pm. I even printed it all out and read through it for mistakes and readability, something I never normally do. It doesn't even have to be handed in till Friday so I can relax a bit now and enjoy the thought of not having to get stressed as the deadline approaches.

I'm actually really pleased with it. I've not actually found a great deal and some of my discussion is a bit of a mish mash but I've enjoyed it (even that statistics! - well, some of them). And I have found some interesting things, well, interesting from my point of view and maybe my supervisors but probably nobody else. It has been really useful experience and I'm sure it will come in very handy when it comes to research later in my career.

I think my brain is a bit fried now so I'm going to go and chill with my banana milkshake, read the Sunday Times and watch some scrubs.... goodnight all.


dr_dyb said...

Wow. I have a junior elective starting Tuesday, and the idea of actually being in a hospital again 8-5 or more sounds really scary. i have had 3 weeks of getting up late, bed late etc....

PhD scientist said...

Hmm. One word of advice from an old writer, LM.

Never, never, never, write something scientific or medical - or send it anywhere, or post it online - without printing it out and reading it through VERY carefully...!!

And preferably get someone else - like Miss B? - to do it too.

One of the first and best rules of scientific and medical writing is that you are often your own worst editor, even though you should always try and edit. In biomedical science there is NO SUCH THING (almost) as too much editing.

the little medic said...

phd scientist - I learnt that in 1st year where I wrote an absolutely perfect SSC report unfortunately I'd put so much effort into writing it that I couldn't be bothered to proof-read it more than just skim reading. I got a really good mark but the comments were all about typos and simple, stupid mistakes.

I do check things now, and usually get someone else to do it too. And I will certainly be checking things I write in the future.

missbliss said...

I always proof-read TLM's projects - I have them printed out and sit with a red pen and scribble all over them.

I think it helps that I'm, as he lovingly refers to me, a "layperson". That way I'm far more critical about how stats and percentages are worded/cited in order for them to make total sense.

I always get into them in the end and they're often really quite interesting. :)

PhD scientist said...

Glad to hear the arts-science collaboration is working well...!

Making tech-y stuff make sense is a very underestimated challenge... relevance to doctoring obvious.

One of the more interesting versions of this is the subject of risk and how to best explain risks to people in comprehensible but nonetheless quantitative / non-misleading ways.

...The possibilities for misunderstanding being great, of course.

For instance, I was always impressed by the study that said that when patients were told a drug unwanted effect was "common" (the word being used in the Euro-rules sense of "happens in around 1 in 10 of the people that take the pills") interviews with the patients showed they actually took the word "common" to mean that 2 our of 3 people taking the drug would get the side-effect. even the simplest language can lead to surprisingly large misunderstandings.

Talking of "translating to real language", one exam (now abolished) that we used to run at my medical school asked students to write a short summary of a short paper, and then write a "newspaper article" (i.e. a lay summary) of the same info, with no words of >2 syllables, doctor-technospeak, or fancy percentages. It used to be quite scary how badly people did this, but it was yr 1 of the course so we figured they had time to get better before they hit yr 5 and FY1 etc.

I was quite sad when they abolished this particular exercise as I used to reckon it was quite useful... although students would probably disagree. As I recall the rationale for dumping it was that students would now be going on lots of GP visits in yrs 1 and 2 so they would see the "translation to lay language" process in action instead.

the little medic said...

Ahhh yes, the lovely Publication based exam. We sat that long ago in year 1. I like most of the rest of the students thought it was a bit stupid. Fortunately I was lucky and passed it at the first attempt. I know many people who failed it (many of the foreign students for obvious reasons).

The students all hated it if I remember correctly. I used to be ok at it (for some unkown reason) and it was just another exam to me. Must admit, we all felt very hard done by when they abolished it along with some of the other exams although i'm quite glad now that i'm in my year rather than the year below.

PhD scientist said...

I used to think the publication paper was quite a useful exercise, LM, because it made students think about an issue (the importance of clear language tailored to who you are talking to / writing for) that was important and that most hadn't considered (judged by the PBL sessions)...

BTW, in BSc bioscience degrees we use the other "half" of the publication paper task ("write a 150 word scientific abstract of this paper") as part of the final exams. It is one of the most discriminating bits, usually.

Re. the foreign students failing the publication paper, if you come to do medicine in an English-language medical course you have to have the language skills required. Same in spades for practising medicine in an English-speaking country. A no-brainer, that one. I have a lot of admiration for people who do UK degrees working in their 2nd or 3rd language, but there absolutely should NOT be any special language "concessions" for them. Extra English courses perhaps, but concessions definitely no.

And I reckon at least as many of the native English speaking students used to fail, if not more. The use of language was a bit of a shocker.

Personally I was a bit sad when the publication paper was stopped. It would have been an interesting exercise to apply again in, say yr 3 and at finals as a kind of extra analysis / language / translation / communication progress test. I'm sure people would have improved a lot...!

PS Not surprised someone who writes a lucid blog would have been good at it, of course.