In Defense of Academic Writing

Here is an interesting account of how academics’ phrasing may be complicated although they strongly believe they are being perfectly clear. The barriers of comprehension may often come across someone’s speech, should it be a friend, a member of our family, a lecturer…
I think that what shouldn’t be forgotten is that the aim of communication is to understand and be understood. Sometimes giving too much information doesn’t help us grabbing the point while sometimes being deprived of data prevents us from getting there. I suppose BALANCE is a delicate notion that makes the aim all the more difficult to reach. Time and experience vs. common sense? Not sure of who’s going to win the battle…

judgmental observer

Academic writing has taken quite a bashing since, well, forever, and that’s not entirely undeserved. Academic writing can be pedantic, jargon-y, solipsistic and self-important. There are endless think pieces, editorials and New Yorker cartoons about the impenetrability of academese. In one of those said pieces, “Why Academics Can’t Write,” Michael Billig explains:

Throughout the social sciences, we can find academics parading their big nouns and their noun-stuffed noun-phrases. By giving something an official name, especially a multi-noun name which can be shortened to an acronym, you can present yourself as having discovered something real—something to impress the inspectors from the Research Excellence Framework.

Yes, the implication here is that academics are always trying to make things — a movie, a poem, themselves and their writing — appear more important than they actually are. These pieces also argue that academics dress simple concepts up in big words in order to exclude those…

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I am a French girl interested in all and nothing!

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