I am currently preparing a manuscript which lies in the biomedical field.

My study has five groups, and their identification is a bit tedious to describe in a full term (something like "'abcd' medicine + 10mg of 'efgh' medicine group").

Therefore, In the results section, I want to maximize word economy by not directly lettering out the specifics of the group, but just referring it to Group, such as A, B, C, D, and E. I am planning to propose a table that clearly explains the initial letters (A, B, C, D, E) of the group and its specific descriptions in the materials and methods section.

However, upon my research, many articles just endured the inefficiency of fully describing the group whenever it has to be mentioned. Is this some kind of a rule that has to be kept when writing a manuscript?

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    It may well be. Different institutions publish different style guides (though there may well be a more universal one published by some central science body). You need to find the ultimate authority within your field, and check with them. General English isn't bound by such guidelines (sorry, rules). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 28 '17 at 7:56
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    It is better if you can give your groups more useful names (eg. "Control", "High Dose", "Treated") or use abbreviations. You still need to define those groups but this way the reader doesn't need to memorize the group codes. – smatterer Aug 28 '17 at 8:55
  • At least use reasonable acronyms for the names that are easier to match to the full description than a random letter of the alphabet. Otherwise one has to keep going back to your table for every figure with labels. It would deter me from finishing to read, in the worst case. It might work for experts in the field that can easily keep the relevant combinations in mind, but I have to read a lot of stuff that uses this kind of things and it is very hard to remember all treatment groups when they have informative names already. With noninformative ones I would just forget which groups are there. – skymningen Aug 29 '17 at 14:37

In general, on the biomedical field Latin letters (A/B/C or a/b/c) are reserved for the figure panels (e.g. "Figure 1 A and B clearly show..."). Typically, biomed articles tend to have a lot of panels per figure, so it is suboptimal to use these letters for anything else. It is much more handy for the reader, if experimental groups have human-readable names that are clearly defined in the method section. A little fantasy may be helpful. For example,

  • Group 1 - placebo control - "Placebo"
  • Group 2 - 10 mg Blabla drug - "B10"
  • Group 3 - 25 mg Lalala drug - "L25"
  • Group 4 - Blabla drug + Lalala drug, once per day - "BLI"
  • Group 5 - 20 mg Blabla + 30 mg Lalala - "B20L30 and etc.

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