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The medical writing award you don’t want to win!

Dizzy Awards

The Dizzy Awards – named after the baseball player and announcer Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean whose poor grammar and syntax became almost his trademark – are given for examples of “terrible” medical writing. All ‘Dizzies’, as the examples are affectionately known, were published in prominent medical journals and somehow bypassed the attention of authors, peer reviewers and editors along the way. Over the past 34 years, a series of articles have highlighted the best (or should that be worst) of the Dizzies. In the latest and final article of the series, published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal, Herbert Fred and Mark Scheid present a meta-analysis of all 394 Dizzies that have been published since the awards began.

The authors begin by categorising the Dizzies according to seven common types of errors. These include lapses in logic, misplaced modifiers, jargon, confusing titles, conflation of ‘cases’ with ’patients’, poor grammar and overstatement of the obvious. The authors also provide some prime examples of each type of error, highlighting cases where writers have got it very wrong! The authors go on to place 29 winners of Dizzy Awards into a Hall of Shame, each within a baseball-related category.

While these awards are certainly tongue-in-cheek, they highlight how issues of poor writing and sloppy editing, although rare, do persist. The authors certainly pick out some bewildering examples; have you come across others that might be contenders for a Dizzy award?

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Summary by Alice Wareham, PhD from Aspire Scientific


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