Systematic treatment of names and titles

We are delighted to have recently published the first titles in our Critical Study Skills series. The extract below is taken from Academic Writing and Referencing for your Nursing Degree by Jane Bottomley and Steven Pryjmachuk


In nursing, you will often be required to refer to the names of medical conditions, such as ‘malaria’ or ‘Parkinson’s disease’, and to the titles of professional organisations, such as the National Health Service or the Nursing and Midwifery Council. When referring to these, it is important to establish the conventions regarding the use of capitalisation.

  • Most diseases and conditions are not capitalised, eg malaria, deep vein thrombosis, obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Diseases and conditions named after an individual capitalise the name, eg Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • The titles of organisations are capitalised, eg the National Health Service.

Many conditions and organisations are also known by their acronyms. An acronym is the short form of a multi-word name, usually formed using the first letter of each word, eg:

  • deep vein thrombosis (DVT);
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD);
  • the National Health Service (NHS);
  • the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Often, people are more familiar with the acronym than the name, sometimes to the extent that they can be a little hazy on what it actually stands for!

In your writing, it is important to be systematic in your use of names and acronyms. The rule in academic writing is very simple: when you mention a term for the first time, you should use the full name, with the acronym following immediately in parenthesis; after this, you should always use the acronym. The following example demonstrates this clearly.

Lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the most frequent venous thromboembolism (VTE) observed in hospitalised patients (Nutescu, 2007). One of the important and well-known risk factors of DVT development is surgery. If there are additional risk factors in a patient undergoing a surgical operation, the risk of DVT is increased even further (Geerts et al. 2012).

(Ayhan et al, 2015: 2246)

Systematic use of names and acronyms adds to the flow and coherence of the text.

Note that acronyms are different from abbreviations, which are formed by shortening a word, eg:

  • approx (approximately);
  • etc (from the Latin ‘et cetera’, meaning ‘and so on’).

The fact that something has been abbreviated is often indicated by the full stop at the end (approx. etc.), but this is often omitted (as in this book, for example). The important thing is to be consistent.

Read more about this book and other titles in the series here.

The A to Z Guide to Working in Further Education

Our Book of the Week this time is The A-Z Guide to Working in Further Education by Jonathan Gravells and Susan Wallace. Designed to support professional development in Further Education at all levels, from the trainee teacher to the experienced team leader. The A-Z format ensures the book is comprehensive and easy to use, while a list of key themes enables the reader to navigate the material in a range of ways.

In this very witty blog post Jonathan explains the value of the A-Z approach. Let us know what you think!

Are you the sort of person who values order and having everything in its allotted place? Because even if you’re not, you must admit that there is something inherently satisfying about knowing exactly where to find that nugget of information you need for your upcoming paper/meeting/team day/appraisal/address to staff/etc. Cataloguing information and know-how in this way is not without its drawbacks of course. Dictionaries, for example, do not, by and large make for good holiday reading, and anyway Education already has its own dictionary anyway (we know because one of us wrote it!). Encyclopaedias, likewise, whilst undoubtedly useful as reference works, are hard to digest when read at length. Furthermore, the thought of following a dictionary by writing an encyclopaedia seems to smack of obsessive-compulsive, not to say downright masochistic tendencies. Giving people who work in FE concise, practical introductions to a host of useful topics, minus the ‘stodge’, however; that struck us as much more fun.

How about borrowing the same structure and producing a handbook people would actually enjoy reading? It would help people to find exactly what they want (and get us out of the boring job of compiling an index!)  Just call it an A to Z, and not only will readers immediately know that it is designed to help them find their way around, but also it will automatically appear at the top of any reading list (unless someone brings out “Aardvarks and their role in Further Education”). Know-how neatly presented in alphabetical order, however, was just the start. Looking for what you want might be made even easier if we also showed how those same topics could be grouped into themes. Managing Upwards, for instance, is part of Developing Resilience & Reducing Stress, as well as Personal Effectiveness. New lecturers wanting to know how to support learners effectively could in this way be directed to a topic like Emotional Intelligence, but then so could experienced leaders and managers looking to develop their people skills. O.K., so now we had our structure. Practical, bite-sized information for everyone in FE from lecturers to principals, in an easy-to-follow A to Z format. Questions remained, of course. Restricting ourselves to a manageable number of topics was not easy. S for S***ing Students was considered too controversial, as was M for Management B*****k-Speak. To make the whole thing more entertaining we have invented a cast of characters and a fictional college. Using snippets of dialogue to bring topics to life is something of a trademark for us. Vignettes like this pepper the book and hopefully help to leaven the mixture a little.

We sincerely hope that you will find much here to inspire and inform you, whatever your role, and, when faced with the undoubted challenges of working in FE, you will dip into our A to Z to seek reassurance, guidance or maybe even new ideas. X may mark the spot for treasure-seekers, but in our book you can find value anywhere in the alphabet (I may even start using this alphabetical mullarkey for articles or blogs). Yes, here it is, at last: an accessible collection of practical and easily referenced advice on everything from Appraisal to Zero-Tolerance. Zippedy-Doo-Dah!

Jonathan Gravells – September 2013

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