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The future of scientific communication in pathology
  1. John Crocker1
  1. 1Histopathology Department, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK

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    The exchange of scientific information in a constructive, non-competitive way is one of the joys of being a pathologist, especially when involved intensively in the academic world. Whether such ideals are always achieved is debatable; however, the advent of “electronic communication” should impress upon us all that such exchange of information should be rapid, robust, and reliable in terms of content. The latter consideration leads directly to the currently widely promulgated field of “evidence based” medicine and pathology.

    Communication between pathologists, from all specialties, is clearly essential. This is true both within and between the areas encompassed in the field. For example, I should find myself lost (as a lymphoma pathologist) if I did not have everyday contact with my colleagues who are haematologists. Such a relationship enables rapid and (I hope!) accurate clinicopathological decisions about patient management; furthermore, in such a context, we often arrive at ideas for research, much of which is conducted at a fundamental level. How much, then, of what we read or hear can we believe? This question inevitably leads to the fashionable topic of “evidence based pathology.”

    “Evidence based pathology”

    What on Earth does this mean?1,2 Surely all that we do or believe in pathology is based on good, solid evidence. This is certainly so in many if not most cases, but anecdotal comment and ideas abound. For example, I was warned as a trainee that fresh water should never be allowed to contact unfixed tissues, as it would destroy good histological morphology. However, this was shown not to be true. Another example: we were told that delayed fixation of tissues should lead to diminished mitotic scores, as cells complete their cycle in that time: again, not necessarily true! Is there really evidence for the proposed sequence of B cell differentiation on which much of …

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