Chapter

Gowers the researcher

Ann Scott, Mervyn Eadie and Andrew Lees

in William Richard Gowers 1845-1915

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692316
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191753527 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199692316.003.0007
Gowers the researcher

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Gowers made shorthand notes on all his cases, and maintained a systematic filing system. He was not the first doctor to use shorthand—Gowers himself pointed out that in the early nineteenth century a Dr Sheppard of Canterbury was using shorthand for his case notes, and noted that a Dr J. H. Gladstone FRS had used it for scientific work since 1846. Gowers used his shorthand as an essential research tool throughout his working life. He described this many years later when he was trying to persuade others of its merits:

In every science that rests on observation, the need for written record is absolute. No memory, whatever its capacity, can be trusted. Immediate record alone can make observation effective. That which is secured by the use of shorthand, even at low speed, is this: in a given time there can be twice the amount of record that is possible with longhand, and yet twice the time in which to observe. For the greater amount of record, observation must be more minute, more precise. Description at once reveals unsuspected uncertainties, and the greater the amount of record the more accurate is the observation, the more valuable is the result. The effect of the use of shorthand is, and must be, on the quality of scientific work so far as observation is concerned.

Chapter.  14862 words. 

Subjects: Neurology ; History of Medicine

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