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Current use of medical eponyms--a need for global uniformity in scientific publications.

Jana N, Barik S, Arora N - BMC Med Res Methodol (2009)

Bottom Line: The abstracts having possessive form were mostly published from the European countries, while most American publications used nonpossesive form consistently.Inconsistency in the use of medical eponyms remains a major problem in literature search.Because of linguistic simplicity and technical advantages, the nonpossessive form should be used uniformly worldwide.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata 700020, India. njana1@vsnl.net

ABSTRACT

Background: Although eponyms are widely used in medicine, they arbitrarily alternate between the possessive and nonpossessive forms. As very little is known regarding extent and distribution of this variation, the present study was planned to assess current use of eponymous term taking "Down syndrome" and "Down's syndrome" as an example.

Methods: This study was carried out in two phases - first phase in 1998 and second phase in 2008. In the first phase, we manually searched the terms "Down syndrome" and "Down's syndrome" in the indexes of 70 medical books, and 46 medical journals. In second phase, we performed PubMed search with both the terms, followed by text-word search for the same.

Results: In the first phase, there was an overall tilt towards possessive form - 62(53.4%) "Down's syndrome" versus 54(46.6%) "Down syndrome." However, the American publications preferred the nonpossesive form when compared with their European counterpart (40/50 versus 14/66; P < 0.001). In the second phase, PubMed search showed, compared to "Down syndrome," term "Down's syndrome" yielded approximately 5% more articles. The text-word search of both forms between January 1970 and June 2008 showed a gradual shift from "Down's syndrome" to "Down syndrome," and over the last 20 years, the frequency of the former was approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001). The abstracts having possessive form were mostly published from the European countries, while most American publications used nonpossesive form consistently.

Conclusion: Inconsistency in the use of medical eponyms remains a major problem in literature search. Because of linguistic simplicity and technical advantages, the nonpossessive form should be used uniformly worldwide.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Trend in use of "Down's syndrome" versus "Down syndrome". Trend in use of possessive form i.e., "Down's syndrome" in PubMed archives since 1970. Percentage is calculated using a formula, 100X/(X+Y), where X and Y indicated the total number of articles retrieved by text-word search "Down's syndrome" and "Down syndrome," respectively. Over the last 20 years, this frequency is approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001).
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Figure 1: Trend in use of "Down's syndrome" versus "Down syndrome". Trend in use of possessive form i.e., "Down's syndrome" in PubMed archives since 1970. Percentage is calculated using a formula, 100X/(X+Y), where X and Y indicated the total number of articles retrieved by text-word search "Down's syndrome" and "Down syndrome," respectively. Over the last 20 years, this frequency is approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001).

Mentions: To explore the trend, we performed text-word search of both forms in the PubMed for a consecutive 5-year block from 1970–74 to 2005–08 (June 30). There was a gradual shift from "Down's syndrome" to "Down syndrome." From 1990, there has been a steady decline (4–6% per every 5-year) in the usage of possessive form (Figure 1), and over the last 20 years, this frequency is approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001).


Current use of medical eponyms--a need for global uniformity in scientific publications.

Jana N, Barik S, Arora N - BMC Med Res Methodol (2009)

Trend in use of "Down's syndrome" versus "Down syndrome". Trend in use of possessive form i.e., "Down's syndrome" in PubMed archives since 1970. Percentage is calculated using a formula, 100X/(X+Y), where X and Y indicated the total number of articles retrieved by text-word search "Down's syndrome" and "Down syndrome," respectively. Over the last 20 years, this frequency is approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2667526&req=5

Figure 1: Trend in use of "Down's syndrome" versus "Down syndrome". Trend in use of possessive form i.e., "Down's syndrome" in PubMed archives since 1970. Percentage is calculated using a formula, 100X/(X+Y), where X and Y indicated the total number of articles retrieved by text-word search "Down's syndrome" and "Down syndrome," respectively. Over the last 20 years, this frequency is approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001).
Mentions: To explore the trend, we performed text-word search of both forms in the PubMed for a consecutive 5-year block from 1970–74 to 2005–08 (June 30). There was a gradual shift from "Down's syndrome" to "Down syndrome." From 1990, there has been a steady decline (4–6% per every 5-year) in the usage of possessive form (Figure 1), and over the last 20 years, this frequency is approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001).

Bottom Line: The abstracts having possessive form were mostly published from the European countries, while most American publications used nonpossesive form consistently.Inconsistency in the use of medical eponyms remains a major problem in literature search.Because of linguistic simplicity and technical advantages, the nonpossessive form should be used uniformly worldwide.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata 700020, India. njana1@vsnl.net

ABSTRACT

Background: Although eponyms are widely used in medicine, they arbitrarily alternate between the possessive and nonpossessive forms. As very little is known regarding extent and distribution of this variation, the present study was planned to assess current use of eponymous term taking "Down syndrome" and "Down's syndrome" as an example.

Methods: This study was carried out in two phases - first phase in 1998 and second phase in 2008. In the first phase, we manually searched the terms "Down syndrome" and "Down's syndrome" in the indexes of 70 medical books, and 46 medical journals. In second phase, we performed PubMed search with both the terms, followed by text-word search for the same.

Results: In the first phase, there was an overall tilt towards possessive form - 62(53.4%) "Down's syndrome" versus 54(46.6%) "Down syndrome." However, the American publications preferred the nonpossesive form when compared with their European counterpart (40/50 versus 14/66; P < 0.001). In the second phase, PubMed search showed, compared to "Down syndrome," term "Down's syndrome" yielded approximately 5% more articles. The text-word search of both forms between January 1970 and June 2008 showed a gradual shift from "Down's syndrome" to "Down syndrome," and over the last 20 years, the frequency of the former was approximately halved (33.7% versus 16.5%; P < 0.001). The abstracts having possessive form were mostly published from the European countries, while most American publications used nonpossesive form consistently.

Conclusion: Inconsistency in the use of medical eponyms remains a major problem in literature search. Because of linguistic simplicity and technical advantages, the nonpossessive form should be used uniformly worldwide.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus