The Words We Use

As I started to read journal papers and other academic texts I felt so ill-prepared to return to academia, I had all the “I’m not good enough” thoughts … the reason (well one of a few) … the language being used.

As I’ve read more and my understanding grows, I don’t feel as bad, but I still come across papers that are like wading through treacle to read. Why do we do this to ourselves? And more importantly, why do we do this to others?

We are academics, we are creating new and exciting knowledge, why do we make it so hard for people to access? So challenging to engage with? We shouldn’t be a secret society, we should be an open and welcoming gathering of humans who want to share and learn and grow ourselves and our knowledge.

Academic texts should not be just for academics.

I don’t want to discuss paywalls here – that’s a different form of dis-engagement, but I am discussing language.

The Conversation is making headway with this, creating content for laypersons, but there are so many other ways in which we academics create barriers to engagement and knowledge exchange with our words.

I believe all writing, including academic, should be written so that anyone with the desire to learn can read it and at least have a shot at understanding. Why do we make it so hard for people to understand what we are saying?

Yes, I know there will be jargon and ‘special words’ depending on the discipline, but let’s free ourselves of that stuffy, fuddy-duddy style and write for the wider audiences instead of the few.

This post was inspired by this post

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash