Candid corpse

Liz Crossan, obituaries editor of the British Medical Journal, has been bemoaning the fact that many obituaries present a less than accurate picture of the late lamented. The BMJ at one point asked people to write their own in the hope that they would have insight into their own deficiencies and failures.

This strategy was not always successful, Ms Crossan admits, but the best self-written obituary came from the noted epidemiologist Archie Cochrane: "In 1957 he survived a professor of surgery's prognosis that he had only three months to live. He was not a real success as a professor, either as a teacher or on the senate, though his kindness to students was prov-erbial.

"He was a man with severe porphyria who smoked too much and was without the consolation of a wife, a religious belief, or a merit award -- but he didn't do so badly."

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Woman taking homeopathic medicine

Alternative treatments in healthcare plan is latest in a series of homeopathy-related controversies

  • Man lying beneath rugby pile-up

Six academics share their experiences before delivering a verdict on the system

  • Zygmunt Bauman with hand over mouth

Eminent sociologist has recycled 90,000 words of material across a dozen books, claims paper

  • Foot about to step on banana peel

Kevin Haggerty and Aaron Doyle offer tips on making postgraduate study even tougher (which students could also use to avoid pitfalls if they prefer)

  • Sorana Vieru, National Union of Students

Sorana Vieru says exams and essays 'privilege' more advantaged students, calls for changes to 'Middle Ages' format