Here are links to articles from experts who argue how using plain language will help improve academic writing too. It’s not about “dumbing down” your message but making sure that you are communicating effectively with your target readers.
Plain language is relevant, even (especially?) for academic and professional writing.
Not fully convinced that plain language principles can make even academic writing better? Try exploring some of these:
☘ Plain language in academia
- “The Needless Complexity of Academic Writing,” Victoria Clayton, The Atlantic (26 October 2015): An engaging take on why academic writing tends to be more complex than necessary and the movement to change that.
- “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly,” Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Applied Cognitive Psychology 20: 139–156 (2006): Authors of complex writing are viewed as less intelligent than those who write simply and clearly, according to this study that won Dr. Oppenheimer the Ig Nobel award.
- “Wanted: Articulate Scientists,” Lily Whiteman, Science (10 November 2000): Reasons why scientists would “win” by using plain language, including more funding and making breakthroughs better known.
- “Say What? The Benefits of Plain Language in Academia,” Sasha Im, University of Washington: A presentation that gives you–straight up–reasons why plain language is useful for academia too. (Link directly opens PDF.)
- “Why Simple Language Isn’t So Simple: The Struggle to Create Plain Language in Documentation,” Tom Johnson (27 July 2017): A thoughtful review of reasons why it’s hard for academics to write in plain language, especially when the paper introduces new terms and concepts.
- “What Is a Lay Summary?“, Jayashree Rajagopalan, Editage Insights (28 June 2019): Even if you’re not fully convinced that academic writing should use plain language, you might agree that a “lay summary”—meant for the layperson interested in your work—would be useful.
Here are more resources if you’d like to learn more about plain language.
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