Word Use and Semantics in Alternative Medicine: A Survey of Editors of Medical and Related Journals

Kevin R. Smith, PhD; Wallace Sampson, MD


Medscape J Med. 2008;10(5):125 

In This Article


Objective: To investigate the views, practices, and policies of medical journal editors on the use of words and phrases present in altmed manuscripts submitted for publication.
Design: Postal survey of 56 journals, with journals selected to cover a range of ISI medical/medically related categories and citation scores.
Results: The overall response rate was 62.5% (35/56); 5.9% (2/34) of responding journals had a policy on word use with respect to altmed; 12.9% (4/31) of editors of journals with no policy had discussed the subject among their staff; 7.4% (2/27) planned to discuss the matter or introduce/improve guidelines; 17.9% (5/28) had discussed the subject with other editors; 10% (3/30) considered the matter to be a problem; and 32% (9/28) had changed altmed wording or had a reviewer suggest changes.
Conclusions: There exists a general lack of policy or discussion on the use of words in altmed papers. Editors do not in general recognize the use of words in altmed as being an issue of special significance. Informed editorial attitudes and policy on the special semantic issues associated with altmed is required to enable journal editors to serve as effective gatekeepers of medical knowledge.


Reader Comments on: Word Use and Semantics in Alternative Medicine: A Survey of Editors of Medical and Related Journals
See reader comments on this article and provide your own.

Readers are encouraged to respond to the author at k.smith@tay.ac.uk or to George Lundberg, MD, Editor in Chief of The Medscape Journal of Medicine, for the editor's eyes only or for possible publication as an actual Letter in the Medscape Journal via email: glundberg@medscape.net


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.