A prescription for more precision in defining areas of expertise

For your consideration:

I have mentioned it before, but in different terms, so I want to clarify the appeal to avoid an inaccurate meme or theme that I keep seeing here & in related documents.

Please consider not using the word ‘clinicians’ when what is meant is ‘clinician-scientists designing & conducting studies like clinical studies such as clinical trials.’

Conflating these two ideas no-to-so-subtly suggests clinician-scientists haven’t spent years specifically learning to conduct research. The truth is that by definition someone is not a clinician-scientist and shouldn’t be designing trials–and almost certainly isn’t–if they haven’t received substantial education in research, well beyond what is provided to clinicians in medical school.

Let us not perpetuate this error of ‘trimming off’ clinician-scientists’ years of research training when describing them. This creates a totally unnecessary rift based on a false premise (the research-trained vs. the naive). I propose the usual rift (Bayes vs. freq) is hard enough work.

I would go so far as to suggest that prior mentions of ‘clinician’ to mean ‘trained clinician-scientist’ be edited for correctness / precision.


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Great point. Will do. I have edited the title of your post to distinguish it from statistical precision. Do you like clinician-scientist better than clinical investigator?

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Thanks, Frank. I think either makes the distinction I’m describing very nicely. No preference.

The key is to recognize that calling physician-scientists with e.g., a master’s degree or PhD in research methodology “clinicians” == referring to statisticians with a master’s degree as “college graduates.”

It strips them of their research education. Thanks for acknowledging & editing!


I edited the most recent post. It will take a while to edit older ones. I’ll probably do that as I make other edits or additions to those pages. Thanks again for the great input.


Agree with Dr. Byrd but even more impressed with your response Dr. Harrell!

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