Jul 13

Science-speak: the antithesis of communication

Normally I blog about how to communicate complex concepts more clearly-how to engage audiences, remove jargon, and get our message across.  Today, I give you the opposite…

The University of Chicago writing program has a website called Write you own academic sentence.  The easy-to-use drop down menus feature complicated terms (such as consumption, or normative values) that you can mix and match into academic-speak.  Here’s my first attempt:

“The emergence of consumption is strictly congruent with the legitimation of power/knowledge.”

Huh? No, this isn’t science, but it still proves a powerful point…many academics write in a deliberately obtuse way.  Journals condone (even encourage!) this weighty language. This week I issue a challenge.  Next time you write a scientific article, write clearly.  Yes, specialty journals call for some jargon, but do we really need to say “has been shown to be” when “is” is a reasonable substitute? Let’s change the way we communicate with each other as well as with public audiences.

Got a favorite verbose sentence? Send it my way!

Thanks to Kurt Englehardt’s SciLogs site for introducing me to the “write an academic sentence” page.  Lots of fun.



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