eBooks published by the author
By way of the briefest of introductions, I’m a pathologist by training and a lexicographer by avocation. I started collecting material for a new dictionary of medicine in 1984. Its focus was/is on terminology that had not been included in the four main medical dictionaries (the Dorland’s, Mosby’s, Stedman’s and Taber’s)…believe me there’s a lot of omitted information.
For the first 2 decades of the project, I spent an inordinate amount of time typesetting and “prettying up” the text to facilitate publication. Anyone familiar with Quark XPress will appreciate the Sisyphean labor entailed. The problem, of course, is that people who use dictionaries don’t, quite frankly, give a rat’s ass about “pretty”: They want a definition…that’s it…actually, that’s almost it. The consumers I’m writing for—medical students and physicians–want a definition at their level of sophistication (I’ve found that most definitions are “dumbed-down” to reach a larger audience), and they want that definition quickly.
One can say a lot of good things about eBooks, especially in terms of enhancing the reader experience for novels and narratives: you can change the fonts, the size of the typeface and the background for reading outdoors, indoors or even at night. But eBooks come up short when one is searching for a specific chunk of information, as one does with dictionaries. If you type keywords into the search window of the Kindle version of the Dorland’s, Mosby’s, or Taber’s medical dictionaries, each will dutifully chug away for a few minutes and then tell you it found no matches, unless you search one word at a time, which may give you a hundred or more nonspecific results.
Try it if you don’t believe me.
You can use any combination of two or more words and the odds are pretty good you won’t find what you’re looking for.
Let’s say I want to know which immunoglobulin is commonly elevated in myeloma of the kidneys, so my search keywords are immunoglobulin, myeloma and kidney. None of the three e-dictionaries found a thing…but I know for a fact that the information is each one of those dictionaries.
Text-based works are not designed to search multiple keywords at the same time…end of story.
It took me a long time to figure that out.
By the time I did, my dictionary had grown to maybe 30,000 pages and over 100,000 entries. I was reaching a size limit; 2000-page dictionaries are unwieldy and the typeface too small to comfortably read. I saw no way forward if I followed the other big medical dictionaries’ lead and went bigger (page number) and smaller (font size). The format was unsustainable and with medical information doubling every few years, the train would derail…
I realized that the only way to access the information I had, would be to stop adding new material and copy and paste all of the material I had to up to the year 2005 into a database…which meant more Sisyphean labor…before I could continue adding material.
The cut-and-pasting is pretty much done. To give the reader an inkling of how big this project is, if I counted the number of entries in my database the way the Dorland’s does, I’d have 337,000 entries (compared to the Dorland’s 124,000 entries), but because I don’t count synonyms as separate entries, which the Dorland’s does, I only have 185,525 entries, some of which, in all fairness, need editing. The real question was, can I now find targetted information? Yes. I redid the above search using the same three keywords immunoglobulin, myeloma, and kidney and instantly found 4 records of interest (of 185,000).
I am convinced that text-based dictionaries–especially medical dictionaries are dead men walking. This assertion applies in particular to paper products, which are obsolete even before they’re off the printing press, given the time it takes for the author/compilers, proofreaders, and typesetters to each sign off in turn and the book to be printed, shipped to the warehouse and sent from the warehouse to the buyer. Many of these concerns also apply to the eBooks…which is why I’m investing no further effort into standalone/one-off dictionary projects.
As of now, all of the products* carved from the Modern Medical Dictionary database will have database functionality. The entries will look a bit different than that of a standard medical dictionary, but it’s tradeoff that I believe readers will find acceptable. I had planned to simply close down the eBooks, but Kent Hummel, my web guy, advised against pulling the plug, despite their lack of updating. His argument was that some readers prefer something that looks like a book, an opinion based on the books’ continued sales. Thanks to Kent, most of the eBooks can still be purchased for your tablet computer.
*Two subdatabases are now finished:
• Medical Abbbreviations and Acronyms (20,000 entries), now available as an App on this website
• Genes (8,000 entries). It will available as an App on this website by the end of November 2017
More subdatabases are finished and/or are close to finished and in the pipeline:
• The Dictionary of British Medicine (5,000 entries)
• Glossary of Suicidology (500 entries)
• Dictionary of Sexology (3,000 entries)
• Dictionary of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (4,000 entries) Third edition currently in preparation
Below, the reader will find some of the eBooks that I’ve published with Appleton & Lange, McGraw-Hill or self-published.
• The Dictionary of Alternative & Complementary Medicine (2nd edition)
• The Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine
• The Doctors’ Dictionary, 2nd edition
• The Illustrated Doctors Dictionary
• British Medtalk (1st edition)
Cover, Dictionary of Alternative Medicine
DICTIONARY OF ALTERNATIVE & COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
Should medically-qualified (real) doctors take alternative and complementary approaches to health seriously? Yes and no. Non-traditional health care excels in reducing the risk of western diseases, through diet, exercise and lifestyle modification. It fails, sometimes spectacularly, to help patients once dread diseases such as AIDS and cancer develop. This dictionary was compiled by a pathologist. It separates the wheat of facts from the chaff of fantasy about complementary and alternative medicine. Quite honestly few of them actually work…and with the increased drive towards evidence-based practice, insurers are less inclined to pay for quack therapies
iBooks type Concise Dictionary of Complementary Medicine in the search window on iTunes
CONCISE DICTIONARY OF MODERN MEDICINE
Cover, Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine
It doesn’t take a student long to realise how much jargon he or she needs to learn before becoming fluent in MedSpeak. The Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine is especially useful for those beginning their education and training in medicine. It is the most complete book on the market for learning the new language of medicine and was written by a doctor for doctors at all levels.
iBooks type Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine in the search window on iTunes
THE DOCTORS DICTIONARY –2nd edition
The Doctors Dictionary – 2nd edition is a completely updated version of a medically “edutaining” browser intended for medical students, physicians and other advanced health professionals. It is a concentration of the “gems” I’ve been collecting since 1984.
Cover, The Doctors’ Dictionary
What started off as a small compilation of pathology jargon (nutmeg liver, cobblestoning–colon, Orphan Annie eyes–thyroid), later expanded to encompass imaging (mogul sigh), molecular biology (Northern blot), informatics (WYSIWYG), forensic psychiatry (Ted Bundy), environment (Chernobyl), global village (Médecins sans Frontières), art (Starry sign), military medicine (Budd light), genocide (Rape of Nanjing), the paranormal (miraculous cures).
iBooks type The Doctors Dictionary – 2nd edition in the search window on iTunes
THE ILLUSTRATED DOCTORS DICTIONARY
The Illustrated Doctors Dictionary is a medically “edutaining” browser intended for medical students, physicians and other advanced health professionals. It has over 10,000 definitions of syndromes, people and events that impact directly and indirectly on medical practice. Short shrift is accorded terms that are well-covered in other medical dictionaries, freeing space for things like serial killers, the arts, entertainment and so much more.
iBooks type The Illustrated Doctors Dictionary in the search window on iTunes
Cover, Dictionary of British Medicine
British Medtalk is a collection of terminology germane to British medicine and includes the broadest range of material that’s been put in a book in the last 50 years. With over 6300 entries, this will satisfy the serious reader looking for translations of abbreviations commonly found in charts and reports, as well as material related to doctors, discipline, the GMC, the NHS, specialty training and so on. It will also quench the thirst of browsers who may not be health professionals, but like to dip in and come way with gems obliquely related to medicine in the UK as well as to British life. This is the first book to tackle the complex and confusing language that is the stuff of British medical practice and, where applicable, provides pronunciation guidelines for key words that are pronounced differently on “the other side.” The reader will find text bites about Bloodgate, the Hillsborough disaster, the Alder Hey scandal, the Bolam and Bolitho tests, Gillick competence, Shipman, Allitt and other serial killers, the Black Dog Strangler, Peter the Cannibal, village idiot, the NHS reforms, blue, orange, and red books, The Red phone, and far more.
iBooks type British Medtalk in the search window on iTunes