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Descriptive Articles

Types of Articles

Richard M. Glass

Descriptive Articles

Descriptions, summaries, or observations that lack the systematic rigor of original research or systematic reviews may be published as Case Reports (for patient descriptions), Clinical Observations, Special Articles, or Special Communications. To merit publication, such articles should make novel observations that can stimulate research or should provide useful information about topics of particular interest to a journal’s readership. Since the scientific value of single case reports is often limited, many journals prefer to consider them as Letters to the Editor and publish them only if they make a unique observation that merits more systematic investigation.5 Some medical journals publish case reports as educational tools. Grand Rounds or Case Conference presentations published in journals typically combine descriptive case material (used to highlight clinical features of a disorder) with a review of the major issues illustrated by the case. Because of the variability of their content, there is no standard format for descriptive articles. A short abstract may be helpful and usually is written in an unstructured narrative form. Such abstracts summarize the main points of the article and are useful for inclusion in electronic databases.

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