EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

A blog for medical students, faculty and librarians about their use of evidence based medicine, clinical literature, Web 2.0, sources and search strategies

News, E-Books, Scientific Research, Tools: The AMA Manual of Style Online

As the new and returning medical, dental, MPH and PhD students get settled into their academic routines, including researching learning issues for PBL, there is a new E-book subscription from UCHC Library which may help them: The AMA Manual of Style: A guide for authors and editors (2009 – E-edition)*.  

Editors of this work are Dr.  Catherine D. DeAngelis, editor of JAMA and editor-in-chief of AMA Scientific Publications & Multimedia Applications, JAMA & Archives Journals, and the AMA Manual of Style committee, chaired by Cheryl Iverson.

Writing for science-technology-medicine audiences for inclusion in peer-reviewed journals has changed so much since (let’s say) 1995.  Scientific writing, presenting and summarizing original research (which may have taken years of the authors’ lives, time and focus) is challenging work, made more complex in 2009 by a shared global internet, cross-referenced publishing platforms, instant dissemination of minute-by-minute scientific news, evolving ideas of digital rights, acceptance and legitimization of open access journals, electronic archives or repository sites… each of these innovations has created effects seen by both consumers of – and publishers of – STM scholarly publishing.  (Not to mention digital journalists, loosey-goosey bloggers, micro-blogging, and 24-hours a day media/reporting frenzies.)

Will a digital edition of the AMA Manual of Style make writing for STM audiences easier?  Actually, it might.

After browsing through the print version of the AMA Manual of Style (10th edition – 2007) from the Reference collection and then using the electronic version, in my humble opinion the digital version is easier to use and quicker to ” find”.

To get an overview of how the work is organized, link to the Table of Contents which reveals the organization of the five Sections, which are:

  • Section 4:  Measurement & Quantitation.  Below is a screenshot of Section 4 – Chapters 18 through 20 which is about  “Study Design and Statistics”:

AMAManualofStyleSection4MeasurementandQuantitation

The Glossary of Statistical Terms from Section 4 would be a good source for students learning biostatistics or epidemiological methods.

Also in Section 4 is a clinical calculator:  Table 2.   Selected Laboratory Tests, With Reference Ranges and Conversion Factors that allows specific patient data to be entered and calculated against stored normal reference ranges (for adults only, no infant or child values are available).

I like that. First year students might like this tool also!  Here’s a screenshot of Table 2:

AMAManualofStyleReferenceValues.

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A different way to search the Manual is by simple (or advanced) keyword.  Following is a screenshot of results from a search for “laboratory values”  that retrieved 16 hits with the Section and Chapter shown:

AMAManualSearchforLaboratoryValues.

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Section 5 of the Manual is entitled Technical Information.  This is where an author could read descriptions of typography, manuscript editing or proofreading practice,  or find links to websites of specific medical associations, databases or global organizations.  There is a Glossary of Publishing Terms in Section 5.

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Finally, there are selected tutorials available through the digital version of the Manual.  One is the Learning Resources section which links to groups of interactive quizzes taken from sections of the E-book.  Students or clinicians can test their knowledge using the Stylebook Quizzes such as “Jargon” or “Correct and Preferred Usage”, “Numbers”, “Grammar” or “Capitalization”.  Items which are answered incorrectly allow a brief tutorial to pop up.

Another teaching-learning-tool is Tip of the Month. An entry from July 2009 about Digital Object Identifiers is shown below:

AMAManualofStyleJuly2009TipDOIs
Credits:  All Images – courtesy of AMA Manual of Style (2009) – All rights reserved – Copyright 2009

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After reading this, you may be asking yourself, “What if I have no plans to publish a research article in JAMA?  How will this manual help me? “.

Graduate students, researchers and faculty in a variety of academic disciplines are required to write a fair amount including grant proposals, patient summaries, journal club presentations, articles for their professional associations, selective project descriptions and of course, required theses or dissertations.

Use this e-book created by medical editors as the working reference source it was designed to be… and because clarity is always in style.

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* Note:  Use of this e-book is by subscription only.  UConn Libraries allows access to this source for UConn or UCHC faculty, staff and students only; if off-site, log in using your proxy account number.  There are 5 simultaneous users allowed, please remember to click log-out when finished using the AMA Manual of Style.

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