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Grammar, spelling, and style

October 8th, 2017 Comments off

The most frequent roadblocks to a health professional or life scientist landing a job or contract as a medical writer are imperfect grammar, bad spelling and confusing style. In a cover letter to a recruiter, an errant capitalization, the lack of a “the” or “an”, and inappropriate adjectives can cause a client or recruiter to toss your resume in the trash can.

More than anything, I encourage mentorees in the Medical Writing Institute to slowly complete the Health Communications pages, reading through documents and watching videos until standard American spelling and grammar has seeped into their bone marrow along with an understanding of style required in all technical writing.

The Medical Writing Institute can help mentorees to some extent in grammar, spelling and style if they are willing to learn.

When I realized my own lack of understanding of American grammar and spelling, I had my PhD 20 years, and had worked progressively as a post-doc, research assistant professor, research associate professor, had work published in several PubMed-indexed papers, even had received an RO1 from the National Institutes of Health. I went to libraries, bookshops, and read every grammar book and style manual I could find. I discovered that words I had casually tossed around were barriers to clear understanding of data I was presenting, and that in a single document I was murdering the sense by occasionally capitalizing or hyphenating words that were pleading for conformity.

If your grammar, spelling, and style are the main roadblocks to your having a great career as a medical writer, please do take these pages seriously. If you are brilliant enough to complete several degrees, you can learn to be humble in your writing, and become expert at grammar, spelling and style.

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