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Connecting the dots: the power of words and the diversity of epidemiological information
  1. John Last
  1. Correspondence to Dr John M Last, Emeritus professor of epidemiology and community medicine, University of Ottawa, 300 Queen Elizabeth Drive, Apartment 11A, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 3M6, Canada; jmlast{at}


Almost 30 years ago, my career in public health sciences detoured along an uncommon pathway: I became a wordsmith, finding unambiguous words and phrases to define the concepts, methods and procedures of epidemiology and related sciences. Playing with words made me well known among epidemiologists, a curious outcome because my contributions are otherwise minor. This shows how important words are.

  • Epidemiology FQ

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.