In this series we take another light-hearted look at writing styles that could be improved, particularly when communicating health economics research. If you recall, we started our little zoo of bad writing styles last month with the Peacock. Here is another fairly common creature in health economics: Introducing……. the Termite

Most of us will have encountered termites in nature programmes or real life – busy, busy, busy. Rushing to and fro in seemingly aimless directions, gradually building up a mound with a highly complex inner structure, but with the overall look of something an unconstipated elephant might leave behind after a particularly hearty feeding frenzy..

So it is with our beloved writer termite types. Every bit of work they’ve done, parameter they’ve assessed, and measurement they’ve taken (and they’ve done A LOT) is so important it MUST be included in their manuscript. So the manuscript ends up with hundreds of bits of information (the termite tunnels) all going in different directions and unrelated to each other. Which means that the end result is invariably too long for the journal, misses the main point altogether, and is indeed perceived by the reviewers of it as that large elephantine pile of partially digested matter.


Writing motivation: I’ve done so much work, unless I put it all in you won’t see how hardworking I am
Means of expression: Lots and lots and lots and lots of facts and findings
The Solution
  • Keep a large poster in front of you all times restating your research question with a note beneath it “Is this point REALLY relevant? If this doesn’t stop you meandering you will have to resort to:
  • Slash and burn – a ruthless reviewer with large red pen