Practical Authorship: What should you write?

Quill_penWhat do you want to write?

I ended the last blog post with the thought that you might write about things that irritate you, or that interest you.

I’m someone who holds opinions.  I never let absence of knowledge get particularly in the way of holding an opinion, and I’m quite happy to change my mind – particularly if I can pretend that this is part of good science or healthy debate.  Unless you are completely passive you must observe things around you that you have thoughts about.  Sometimes these thoughts will be a consequence of those expressed by others, sometimes they can come on alone.

Let me give you some of my thoughts or opinions.  Some of these will make my work colleagues will sigh long and deep to hear expressed yet again, but the point is that they’re the starting point.  I’m not going to join the dots for you.

I don’t understand why we’re obsessed with giving all crying babies a proton pump inhibitor.  I like proton pump inhibitors when I’ve got bad reflux secondary to eating too much chocolate, but I also note that it makes me feel, well, odd in the tummy for the next few days.  If I were a baby, wouldn’t that make me cry too?

Why do we do tests we don’t understand?  I get letters from doctors asking me about a child in whom they’ve measured the ANA, and can’t understand the result.  I don’t understand it either.  I discuss it with my colleagues in rheumatology, and the kindest interpretation of their huffs and puffs is that even they don’t understand it. Perhaps we should only do tests where we know what we’ll do with the result.

Why do parents talk to me about “researching” things on the internet?  I’ve got friends who do research, and as far as I can tell it involves long years in libraries or laboratories, with deep and complex thought, and scanty reward.  Does the word “research” in this context simply mean “google”,but they’re actually trying to make their activity look more sophisticated?  Or am I just being precious about medical knowledge, and claiming I have a unique insight that they lack?

Each of these ideas could become a piece of research, some study in a library or electronic equivalent thereof, or an opinion piece.  Each of these ideas interests me, and as I write them, makes me want to understand them more – flesh them out, figure out what bits I’ve got wrong, and where I might have a fresh insight. I might need to spend the equivalent of a few days – or more – working quite hard, but eventually I’ll have new knowledge.

Write to find stuff out.


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