Scientific Jargon

Jargon includes words and phrases that can be understood in conversation but are vague, confusing, or depersonalizing are generally inappropriate in formal scientific writing. 

4+ albuminuria proteinuria (4+)
blood sugarcardiac dietblood glucosediet for a patient with cardiac disease
chartmedical record
chief complaint chief concern
congenital heartcongenital heart disease; congenital cardiac anomaly
emergency room emergency department 
gastrointestinal infection gastrointestinal tract infection or infection of the gastrointestinal tract
genitourinary infectiongenitourinary tract infection or infection of the genitourinary tract
heart attackmyocardial infarction
hyperglycemia of 250 mg/dLhyperglycemia (blood glucose level of 250 mg/dL)
jugular ligationjugular vein litigation or litigation of
labslaboratory test results
left heart failureleft ventricular failure (preferred, but query author); left-sided heart failure
normal rangereference range
pap smearpapanicolaou test
the patient failed treatmenttreatment failure
preemiepremature infant
psychiatric floorpsychiatric department, service, unit, ward
respiratory infectionrespiratory tract infection or infection of the respiratory tract
status postafter; following
surgeriesoperations or surgical procedures
symptomatologysymptoms (query author)
therapy of (a disease of condition)therapy for
treatment for (a disease or condition)treatment of
urinary infectionurinary tract infection or infection of the urinary tract

The following terms and euphemisms should be changed to preferred forms:

Expired, passed away, succumbed
killed; humanely killed (query author)

Avoid trivializing or dehumanizing disciplines or specialties. For example:

  • Osteopathic physician and osteopathic medicine, not osteopath and osteopathy
  • Cardiologic consultant or cardiology consultation, not cardiology (for the person)
  • Orthopedic surgeon, not orthopod

Colloquialisms, idioms, and vulgarisms should be avoided in formal scientific writing. Exceptions may be made in editorials, informal articles, etc.

When the administration of drugs is described, intra-articular, intracardiac, intramuscular, intrathecal, intravenous, intravitreal, oral, parenteral, rectal, subconjunctival, subcutaneous, sublingual, topical, and transdermal are acceptable terms wen these are the usual or intended routes of administration. Except for systemic chemotherapy, however, drugs are usually neither systemic nor local but are given for systemic or local focus.

  • Some topical corticosteroid ointments produce systemic effects.
  • Oral penicillin is often preferred to parenteral penicillin.
  • Intravenously injected heroin may be contaminated.

Exceptions: Local anesthetics are a class of drugs. Techniques for delivering anesthesia are general, local, and regional. Certain drugs may be inhaled. 

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