We occasionally get questions from writers doing their due diligence for a story making sure they get their medical facts right. This question is a good example: Pedestrian Car Collision - book research

The question is clearly opinion-based because no matter how many factual references you can come up with to support your answer, it's really just a medical advice question for a fictional character. And since you don't have a full history and exam, your answer will have to be opinion mixed with educated guesses.

That means that under current site guidelines it should be closed without further ado. But we have a history of allowing such questions. I didn't dig down to find examples, but I know I've answered at least one or two myself and I've seen others. All that I can recall seeing have been allowed to stand.

So my question is: Should these questions be allowed?

My vote: YES

I think we should allow them as long as they're clearly fictional and don't ask for instructions on doing harm or concealing crime.

Also, allowing this exception for questions shouldn't change the rules for answers. They should still be required to provide references for their claims of fact.


  • They do no harm and can be an interesting read
  • Good answers can be found by search engines and be valuable resources for many other questions


  • Now and then mods might have to explain why they're seemingly being inconsistent (by simply linking to this thread)
  • I've often voted to close these, but I'm willing to revise that approach if we'd like to keep them. Would you think that we require the same level of prior research/asking effort as for other purposes?
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Feb 19, 2021 at 16:51
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    @BryanKrause I think the prior research requirements can be relaxed some since it's fiction, but not eliminated entirely. Most of these questions seem to center around trauma, and it's hard to actually research what happens to the human body when it hits concrete from a 90-foot fall (one recent example). But I do think the question has to be medically and scientifically plausible. No sci-fi or fantasy, for example.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Feb 19, 2021 at 20:53
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    I am of a different opinion on prior research requirements. If the author is writing a book and wants it to be medically accurate, surely personal research is required. Why should they have a relaxation of the requirements others have for prior research? If no prior research is shown, then the question should be closed, whether it is for a fictional book needing medical accuracy or not. Feb 22, 2021 at 14:25
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    I think I agree with @Chris that the research requirement is still important as demonstrating that they've done some work prior to posting the question. I'd be less concerned if the question is something that itself can help the asker self-research further, for example questions about medical terminology.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Feb 23, 2021 at 1:01

1 Answer 1


This question has had a fair number of views (23) and has been posted for two weeks. It currently has 4 upvotes and 2 downvotes.

Comments indicate at least two people feel the prior research requirement shouldn't be relaxed. Perhaps the two downvotes are because of that? Don't know.

So my take on this is we should allow such questions, but they should have to meet the same prior research requirements. Also, the question must be medically and scientifically plausible, and must involve only real humans, not imaginary creatures, space aliens, etc.

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