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December 6, 2012

Quiz Bowl: Intellectual Property

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 2:59 pm
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Whenever I see the words intellectual property, I think of David Letterman. Remember when he left NBC for CBS, thus inciting an intellectual property firestorm? NBC claimed intellectual property rights on much of Letterman’s material, including Stupid Pet Tricks and the Top 10 List. The controversy even caused the fictional demise of Larry “Bud” Melman (also considered the intellectual property of NBC), although the actor who played the character of Larry “Bud” Melman (Calvert DeForest) continued with Letterman at CBS until he retired in 2002. Much comic fodder was made of this intellectual property brouhaha, mostly by Letterman himself. However, in publishing circles, intellectual property is serious business.

So, what exactly is intellectual property? The AMA Manual of Style writes,

Intellectual property is a legal term for that which results from the creative efforts of the mind (intellectual) and that which can be owned, possessed, and subject to competing claims (property). Three legal doctrines governing intellectual property are relevant for authors, editors, and publishers in biomedical publishing: copyright (the law protecting authorship and publication), patent (the law protecting invention and technology), and trademark (the law protecting words and symbols used to identify goods and services in the marketplace).

This month’s AMA Manual of Style quiz offers multiple-choice questions on intellectual property. Test your knowledge by responding to the following question from this month’s quiz:

A scientist develops data while working at Harvard University. He then moves to Stanford University, where he publishes an article using the original data in JAMA. Who owns the data?

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. Scientist
  4. JAMA

What do you think? Do the data belong to the scientist, one of the academic institutions, or the publishing journal? Use your mouse to highlight the text box for the answer:

Harvard University

In scientific research, 3 primary arenas exist for ownership of data: the government, the commercial sector, and academic or private institutions or foundations. Although an infrequent occurrence, when data are developed by a scientist without a relationship to a government agency, a commercial entity, or an academic institution, the data are owned by that scientist. Any information produced by an office or employee of the a government agency in the course of his or her employment is owned by the government. Data produced by employees in the commercial sector (eg, a pharmaceutical, device, or biotechnology company, health insurance company, or for-profit hospital or managed care organization) are most often governed by the legal relationship between the employee and the commercial employer, granting all rights of data ownership and control to the employer. According to guidelines established by Harvard University in 1988 and subsequently adopted by other US academic institutions, data developed by employees of academic institutions are owned by the institutions (§5.6.1, Ownership and Control of Data, pp 179-183 in print).

So, when Letterman packed his bags and moved to CBS, he was legally required to leave some of his property behind because it was owned by NBC. Similarly, when authors leave their academic institutions, they are usually required to relinquish the results of the work they performed during their employment.—Laura King, MA, ELS

October 7, 2012

Quiz Bowl: Articles

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 7:19 am
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Once again it’s time for a historic Quiz Bowl. Okay, maybe historic is a bit much, but I’m trying to make a point here. The point has to do with the subject of this month’s AMA Manual of Style quiz—articles. Is it a historic or an historic Quiz Bowl? Did you guess a historic? If so, you’re right. The article a is used before the aspirate h (eg, a historic occasion) and nonvocalic y (eg, a ubiquitous organism) (§11.9, Articles, p 412 in print).

Try another example from this month’s quiz.

The physician told that patient that he should have a/an ultrasound examination performed.

Here’s a hint. Sometimes it helps to read the sentence aloud.

The answer is as follows (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

The physician told that patient that he should have an ultrasound examination performed.

Words beginning with vowels are preceded by a or an according to the sound following (in this case, the u sound) (§11.9, Articles, p 412 in print).

Sound plays an important role in determining whether to use a or an. Test your skills by taking the full Articles Quiz on the AMA Manual of Style online. It will be a (or is that an?) unique experience.—Laura King, MA, ELS

August 30, 2012

Quiz Bowl: Anatomy

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 7:54 am
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Quiz Bowl is back! After a much need summer hiatus (much needed on my part, not sure how you guys feel about the matter), the games continue with a quiz on anatomy. Hmmm, maybe I should rephrase that. Make that with a quiz on anatomy terms. Hmmm, that’s medical terms, not the kind you see scribbled on the bathroom wall. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s get to the question.

Edit the following sentence to conform to the AMA Manual of Style guidelines on anatomical terms (§11.6, Anatomy, p 410 in print).

The investigators examined catheter-induced lesions of the right heart.

Any ideas? Consider the term right heart. Here’s the answer (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

The investigators examined catheter-induced lesions of the right side of the heart

Although some animals have more than 1 heart (the octopus, the earthworm, the cockroach), people only have 1 heart. Authors often err in referring to anatomical regions or structures as the “right heart,” “left chest,” “left neck,” and “right brain.” The terms right and left imply 2 different structures. Generally these terms can be corrected by inserting a phrase such as “part of the” or “side of the.”

Want to learn more? Take the full Anatomy Quiz on the AMA Manual of Style online. See you next month!—Laura King, MA, ELS

May 31, 2012

AMA Style Insider Responds

Filed under: meta-blog,quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 1:03 pm
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We love comments. (From real people, that is. Spambots, you can stop any time.)

We love comments like, “Great blog!” We even love comments like, “You are wrong about every single thing related to medical editing, your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries, goodbye.” Both of those require simple responses—I like “Thanks!” for both, to be honest. For the latter, I would be charitable and not even comment on the comma usage.

Every once in a while someone will leave a critical comment that requires a longer response, and sometimes the consultation of outside experts. That was the case with this Quiz Bowl post on units of measure. A reader wrote:

A big problem with the AMA manual is a lack of consideration significant figures. The conversion factor listed in the online “SI Conversion Tables” section from feet to centimeters is 30. That’s wrong. Let’s say I try to convert my height (6.0000 feet) into centimeters. The “.0000″ means that my measurement has 5 significant figures. Significant figures are important in science and health care.

I start with the only unit conversion between customary and metric that matters: 2.54 centimeters equals exactly 1 inch. This is the only conversion that matters because it is a definition. There are infinite significant figures.

Here is what happens if I use the “SI Conversion Tables” section of the AMA manual of style:

6.0000 feet * 30 = 180 centimeters

Here is what happens if I use math and pay attention to significant figures:

6.0000 feet * (12 inches/1 foot) * (2.54 cm)/(1 inch) = 182.88

Where did those extra 2.88 centimeters come from? They came from a a conversion factor that was wrong.

For the same reason as above, your answer to the first problem is wrong.

7.2 inches^2 * (((2.54 cm)^2)/((1 in)^2)) = 46.45 (assuming 4 significant figures, to demonstrate the inaccuracy of your conversion factor)

This isn’t just an academic exercise. A text for editors shouldn’t have errors like this.

We made “hmmm” noises for a while but finally drafted a response to post here, since a shameful amount of time has gone by since the original comment.

You raise an important point about the significance of significant digits. The Manual addresses this in section 20.8.1 and, in chapter 18, where the conversion table is embedded that shows conversions for inches to centimeters, there is a caution that results should not be reported beyond the appropriate level of precision.  It is critical to ascertain the precision needed for the clinical context of the conversion. If you only need significance to 1 place beyond the decimal (7.2 inches) to accurately describe tumor size, then the 2 significant digits of the result should be fine and the clinical difference between 46.8 and 46.5 is probably not important.

It’s entirely possible that the final 3 words of that paragraph are the equivalent of a thrown gauntlet to someone out there—if so, we’re willing to continue the conversation in the comments to this post.—Brenda Gregoline, ELS

May 22, 2012

Quiz Bowl: Mathematical Composition

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 1:43 pm
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Have you ever seen that T-shirt? The one that reads, “I’m an English major; you do the math.” I have to confess that was my philosophy when I was first hired as a copy editor. Even today, if I didn’t have a calculator, a copy of Mathematics Into Type, and a bottle of ibuprofen, I wouldn’t even attempt to edit equations. So, to ease the furrowed brows of all you English-major copy editors who are forced to face the math, this month’s AMA Manual of Style quiz is on mathematical composition. But let’s ease into this. Try to example below first and then attempt the full quiz at http://www.amamanualofstyle.com.

Which of the following equations correctly uses brackets, parentheses, and braces?

{4 + (−1[2 −1])}2
[4 + {−1(2 −1)}]2
(4 + [−1{2 −1}])2
{4 + [−1(2 −1)]}2

And the answer is (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

{4 + [−1(2 −1)]}2

Parentheses should be used to set off simple expressions. If additional fences are needed for clarity, parenthetical expressions should be set off in brackets, and bracketed expressions should be set off with braces. Note that parentheses are thus always the innermost fences. All fences should be present in matched pairs.

Well, did you survive? If so, you can now turn in those English major T-shirts for ones that read, “I’m a copy editor; I’ll do the math.”—Laura King, MA, ELS

April 16, 2012

Quiz Bowl: Publishing Terms

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 1:28 pm
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Imagine your first day of work as a new editor at a large association. Seasoned professionals are bandying around words such as blueline, bleed, and boilerplate. When they use the word dummy you think they’re talking about you. Before you pack your blue pencil and head for the door, take a deep breath and dive into this month’s AMA Manual of Style quiz on publishing terms at http://www.amamanualofstyle.com. Here is an example of what you can learn:

Which of the following terms means a drawing showing a conception of the finished product that includes sizing and positioning of the elements?
blueline
color proof
galley proof
layout

And the answer is (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

layout

According to the AMA Manual of Style, layout is “a drawing showing a conception of the finished product that includes sizing and positioning of the elements.” A blueline is “the proof sheet(s) of a book or magazine printed in blue ink that shows exactly how the pages will look when they are printed.” A color proof is “photomechanical or digital presentations of color.” A galley proof is “a proof of typeset text copy run 1 column wide before being made into a page.”

Feeling a little more armed to face that first day of work? If not, take the full Publishing Terms Quiz on the AMA Manual of Style website to master your knowledge of publishing terms.—Laura King, MA, ELS

February 28, 2012

Quiz Bowl: SI vs Conventional Units

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 1:51 pm
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Welcome back, quiz bowl participants. Our very first quiz bowl, which appeared on this site on May 5, 2011, dealt with format, style, and punctuation of units of measure. Now we’re back to delve even further into the intriguing and ever-changing world of units of measure style. The following is a sample of one of the questions that appears in this month’s AMA Manual of Style quiz on SI vs conventional units (http://www.amamanualofstyle.com/). Answer the question based on your understanding of section 18.5 of the AMA Manual of Style.

The mean 2-dimensional area of the largest metastasis was 7.2 sq in.

So, what do you think? This one isn’t really too hard. Here’s the answer (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

The mean 2-dimensional area of the largest metastasis was 46.8 cm2.

Measurements of length, area, volume, and mass are reported in metric units rather than English units. To convert square inches to square centimeters, multiply by 6.5 (§18.5.1, Length, Area, Volume, Mass, pp 794-795 in print).

Let’s try a more challenging question.

Admission laboratory tests revealed the following: serum creatinine, 0.9 mg/dL; serum urea nitrogen, 11 mg/dL; serum albumin, 39 g/L; and prothrombin time, 11.5 seconds.

Yes, this one is definitely harder. Here’s the answer:

Admission laboratory tests revealed the following: serum creatinine, 0.9 mg/dL (to convert to micromoles per liter, multiply by 88.4); serum urea nitrogen, 11 mg/dL (to convert to millimoles per liter, multiply by 0.357); serum albumin, 3.9 g/dL (to convert to grams per liter, multiply by 10); and prothrombin time, 11.5 seconds.

For laboratory values, factors for converting conventional units to SI units should be provided in the article. In text, the conversion factor should be given once, at first mention of the laboratory value, in parentheses following the conventional unit (§18.5.10, Laboratory Values, pp 797-816 in print). Although the AMA Manual of Style recommends writing out units of measure when no numbers are reported (eg, micromoles per liter), some journals may prefer to use abbreviations when listing SI conversion factors (eg, mmol/L).

Need some more practice? Subscribe to the AMA Manual of Style online and take the full quiz. If you’re new to the site, check out some of our other quizzes as well.—Laura King, MA, ELS

February 2, 2012

Quiz Bowl: Fill in the Blank

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 10:02 am
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When is a girl really a woman? When is a boy a man? When do children stop being children and become adults? Okay, we are starting to sound like a style manual version of Bob Dylan—but these answers are not blowing in the wind, they are in an AMA Manual of Style quiz on age and sex referents. Below are some simple fill in the blank exercises to guide you when you take this quiz.

Use the following terms to fill in the blanks: woman, man, newborn, adolescent, and infant. (To see the answers, highlight the blank space with your mouse.)

A person from birth to 1 month of age is a(n) newborn.

A female person older than 18 years is a(n) woman.

A male person older than 18 years is a(n) man.

A person aged 1 month to 1 year is a(n) infant.

A person aged 13 through 17 years is a(n) adolescent.

For additional exercises on age and sex referent usage in medical publications, take this month’s quiz at www.amamanualofstyle.com.—Laura King, MA, ELS

November 14, 2011

Quiz Bowl: Study Designs

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 2:38 pm
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Okay, show of hands, who knows the difference between a cost-effectiveness study and a cost-benefit analysis? Can you explain what makes a study retrospective vs prospective? What’s the name for the study that pools the results of 2 or more studies to address a hypothesis?

Let’s admit it. Most manuscript editors are at a loss when it comes to understanding the different medical study designs, but at least a cursory knowledge in this area will help as you edit manuscripts. This month’s AMA Manual of Style quiz is on study designs. Test your knowledge in this area by answering the following sample question from the quiz:

Which type of study compares those who have had an outcome or event with those who have not?

case-control study

case series

cohort study

meta-analysis

Here’s the answer (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

case-control study

Of the multiple answer options given, case-control study is the most appropriate. According to the AMA Manual of Style, “Case-control studies, which are always retrospective, compare those who have had an outcome or event (cases) with those who have not (controls). A case series “describes characteristics of a group of patients with a particular disease or patients who have undergone a particular procedure.” A cohort study “follows a group or cohort of individuals who are initially free of the outcome of interest.” Finally, a meta-analysis “is a systematic pooling of the results of 2 or more studies to address a question of interest or hypothesis.”

If you want more examples to test your knowledge on study designs, take the Study Design Quiz on the AMA Manual of Style online.—Laura King, MA, ELS

October 7, 2011

Quiz Bowl: To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize

Filed under: quizzes — amastyleinsider @ 9:12 am
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Flipping through the table of contents of the most recent issues of JAMA and the Archives journals, I realize how challenging it can be to correctly capitalize article titles and subtitles. Do hyphenated compounds use initial capital letters on both terms? Are words of 2 letters or fewer capitalized? How do you capitalize genus and species names? Much like Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” conundrum, I am often found muttering to myself “To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize.”

This month in the Archives of Internal Medicine, an article on hip fracture and increased short-term but not long-term mortality in healthy older women appears. But how should this be capitalized as a title? Is it “Hip Fracture and Increased Short-Term But Not Long-Term Mortality in Healthy Older Women,” “Hip Fracture and Increased Short-term But Not Long-term Mortality in Healthy Older Women,” or “Hip Fracture and Increased Short-term but Not Long-term Mortality in Healthy Older Women”?

This month’s JAMA contains an article on the need for critical reappraisal of intra-aortic balloon counterpulsation. But is it the “Need for Critical Reappraisal of Intra-Aortic Balloon Counterpulsation” or the “Need for Critical Reappraisal of Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation”?

Finally, in the Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, an article on leiomyosarcoma of the head and neck: a population-based analysis is published. But did the authors perform “A Population-Based Study” or “A Population-based Study”?

Capitalizing titles can provide editors with a sea of troubles, which is why we have chosen the topic for this month’s quiz. Test your ability to correctly capitalize the title in the following example. For further explanation of the correct answer, refer to section 10.2 (pp 372-374 in print). Then check out this month’s quiz (which subscribers can find at http://www.amamanualofstyle.com/) for more titles and subtitles to capitalize.

tolcapone in patients with parkinson disease: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Okay, back to the original question—to capitalize or not to capitalize? How did you handle this title and subtitle? Did you know that double-blind and placebo-controlled are treated differently? Here’s the answer (use your mouse to highlight the text box):

Tolcapone in Patients With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

The A should be capitalized because it is the first word of the subtitle (§10.2, Titles and Headings, p 372 in print). Double-blind is a hyphenated compound considered a single word (ie, it can be found as a single entry in Webster’s); therefore, blind should not be capitalized. Placebo and controlled are 2 separate terms operating together as a temporary compound; therefore, both parts of the hyphenated compound should be capitalized (§10.2.2, Hyphenated Compounds, pp 373-374 in print).

For the record, those titles I mentioned earlier should be capitalized as follows:

Hip Fracture and Increased Short-term but Not Long-term Mortality in Healthy Older Women
Need for Critical Reappraisal of Intra-aortic Balloon Counterpulsation
Leiomyosarcoma of the Head and Neck: A Population-Based Analysis

If you want more examples to help you solve the puzzle surrounding correct capitalization of titles and subtitles, take the Capitalization of Titles and Subtitles Quiz on the AMA Manual of Style online.—Laura King, MA, ELS

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