Re: bioavailability (medical)

Subject: Re: bioavailability (medical)
From: Bill Burns <wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 11:08:40 MDT

Brad writes concerning the term "bioavailability."

Good guess. My _McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Science and Technical Terms_
defines the term as "[t]he extent and rate at which a substance, such as a
drug, is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of
physiological activity." I guess, in addition to the release of external
substances, it would also apply to such processes as the use of calcium during
muscle contraction or the release of endorphins or opiates.

Of course, I can't bear to stay out of a the active/passive debate. The reason
many composition instructors dislike passive voice (in addition to its vague
or poor use) is that writers often get into a set pattern of usage with little
variation in sentence construction. (BORING). Also , passive constructions
typically require more words to communicate the same information. Try
switching the subject and direct object of a sentence while maintaining the
original meaning, and you'll see what I mean.

The problem with the application of the "no-passive-voice" rule (which really
isn't a rule) is that it's overgeneralized. As one person pointed out, some
people confuse present perfect tense for passive voice. Others lump the use
of predicate adjective constructions in as well. As with many systems of
rules, a person has to know the standards before knowing when to flout them.
Passive voice can eliminate the focus on an agent in a sentence. When that
technique is necessary, passive voice is not only an option, but often a more
effective one--even in technical writing.

Bill Burns
Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor
WBURNS -at- MICRON -dot- COM (208)368-5057


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