Current issues of ACP Journal Club are published in Annals of Internal Medicine


More informative titles

ACP J Club. 1994 July-Aug;121:A10. doi:10.7326/ACPJC-1994-121-1-A10a

ACP Journal Club is constantly seeking ways to improve its effectiveness and efficiency in distilling information for readers, and in this issue we are introducing the “more informative title.” By disclosing each article's conclusion in its title, we hope to help busy clinical readers become even more efficient in their efforts to keep up with the literature.

From this issue onward, the short title for each article that we abstract will appear in the “active” voice, following 2 simple rules. First, the title of an original investigation will appear in the past tense because it introduces a single study that may not represent the general case (e.g., Comorbidity and Severity, but not Age, Predicted Survival in Pneumonia). Second, the title of an overview or meta-analysis with clear conclusions will appear in the present tense because it introduces a systematic review of all the relevant investigations and thus is highly likely to represent the (current) general case (e.g., Ambulatory Blood Pressure Measurement Is of Limited Usefulness).

One measure of the information in an item is the amount of surprise it contains for the reader. Thus, if the title indicates a conclusion that surprises you (i.e., runs counter to your current understanding) about a medical problem that your patients might have, that would be a prompt to look for the details in the abstract. We presume that readers will use the more informative titles to help decide which abstracts to pay attention to. These new titles will appear on the front cover of ACP Journal Club as well as at the top of each abstract, beginning with this issue. We welcome any comments you may have.

R. Brian Haynes, MD, PhD
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada