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I am editing a biomedical review article for publication and the authors would like to display the percentage value with the corresponding raw values from the data. How do I format this?

Example: "According to X report, 5 of 400 (1.25%) patients recieving CMV prophylaxis developed encephalitis."

Is this format correct?

I have also seen: "5 (1.25%) of 400 patients" "5 of 400 patients (1.25%)"

Any advice is appreciated!

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    Is there a style guide of your target publication or of the institution you are writing for? – Helmar Nov 13 '16 at 18:11
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    "5 of 400 patients, i.e. 1.25% receiving ..." – Graffito Nov 13 '16 at 20:06
  • I think that if the % immediately precedes "patients," it needs to be "% of patients." And that's awkward. So use "Reportedly, 5 of 400 patients receiving CMV prophylaxis developed encephalitis (1.25%)." But this is a matter of style. – jejorda2 Nov 14 '16 at 13:46
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I think if you use your own critical judgement on this you will reach the best solution. The first of the alternatives you mention seems best to me:

"According to X report, 5 of 400 (1.25%) patients recieving CMV prophylaxis developed encephalitis."

Why? Because you can't say (x%) until you have written a of b, and any later in the sentence it is dissociated from the values.

However, perhaps a better solution would be:

"According to X report 1.25% (5 of 400) patients recieving CMV prophylaxis developed encephalitis."

Why? I assume that the primary interest is the overall percentage. The sample size is important, but it's more a qualifier, so it seems more natural to me to place it in parentheses.

Or course, context is important. If X report is being compared to Y report, then the focus might be on different sample sizes, in which case you would put the emphasis there, with something like:

"According to X study of 400 patients, 1.25% recieving CMV prophylaxis developed encephalitis."

So the important thing is not to follow some convention, but to use a sentence structure that conveys the information most clearly (and honestly).

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For some reason I'm still unaware of, I receive the British medical journal The Lancet. In perusing their review articles, they used both your schemes. However, what is consistent, is a statement preceding the numerical values, giving their presentation a purpose. A savvy audience will probably want to know something additional to a percentage such as an odds ratio or a confidence interval. Once you start adding numbers in a professional journal, the readers will want to know how trustworthy your data is.

For example,

Collins, et. al., examined the rate of encephalitis in recently CMV-vaccinated patients ages 8-17. They found 5 of 400 patients (1.3%, odds ratio 2.5/1, 95% CI 0.74-0.81) became symptomatic using the BRAIN method.

Also, be careful with the number of significant digits. It's unlikely the study is adequately powered for 3 significant digits; you're better off sticking with 2 throughout, hence 1.3% rather than 1.25%.

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