Harvey Tercentenary Lecture
The Impact of Harvey and his Work on Circulation Research
Having come to the end of my discourse, it appears reasonable that I give a summary of the impacts of Harvey's work on circulation research in the sequence that they were presented in the text. But, since various impacts concern the approach toward research problems, the conduct of experiments, the interpretation of results and the presentation of discoveries, it seems more useful to transform them into a series of aphorisms and to weave these around different aspects of research work.
1. The approach toward a research problem requires respect for authoritative interpretations without bedazzlement by them.
2. Research consists in the acquisition of new data, undistorted by limitations of our senses or through use of faulty apparatus, and the interpretation of results in the light of current knowledge in cognate and collateral fields.
3. Contributions of previous investigators should be judged by the evidence presented, not necessarily by the conclusions that have been drawn therefrom.
4. Antecedent reasoning, especially when quantitative in character, is often an important tool for hewing new trails that can be widened into roads by experimentation.
5. Haphazard experimentation is less rewarding than that guided by a well considered plan, provided that its scope and complexity are suited to the capabilities of the investigator and to the contemplated duration of the project.
6. Quantitative procedures are apt to be more definitive, but care must be exercised against hidden errors in data.
7. Notation of significant observations not pertinent to the objective of an experiment is important, for they may fill gaps in other fields or give leads for new projects.
8. Information applicable to the human race can still be gained by experiments on creatures low in the phylogenetic scale.
9. Careful planning of the mammalian experiments reduces the requirements for experimental animals.
10. A well tempered interpretation of results is the climax of a research. It requires separation of auxiliary and crucial information, consideration of all possible implications of the latter, and exclusion of less likely explanations on the basis of the synergistic data or through reasoning consistent with past experiences or prior knowledge.
11. Introduction of data and conclusions of others into a chain of arguments risks the insertion of weak links, as does extrapolation of personal data.
12. Specific deductions should be extended into broad generalizations with the greatest reserve and caution.
13. Speculations are best avoided for, if later found to be poor guesses, they serve only to devalue the research.
14. The purpose of a scientific paper is to share one's discoveries and ideas with others. Therefore, the reader should be able to gain a clear picture of the author's procedure, results and interpretations without effort; he should not be befuddled by ambiguity, verbosity or tiresome reiteration. The quality of a communication will be judged by its depth and breadth rather than by its length.
15. A scientific article becomes a part of the permanent literature. Friendly criticism by others and allowance of an interval for aging of a manuscript before its submission for publication make it a more creditable addition. An informative title reduces the chance of the work's concealment in index journals.
Finally, I shall end this commemoration of Harvey's death by reading the closing sentence of the dedication of his treatise, De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis, to the President and members of the Royal College of Physicians: "I avow myself the partisan of truth alone; and I can indeed say that I have used all my endeavors, bestowed all my pains on an attempt to produce something that should be agreeable to the good, profitable to the learned, and useful to letters. Farewell, most worthy Doctors
And think kindly of your Anatomist
- © 1957 American Heart Association, Inc.