Six reasons for bad academic writing
Sociologist Lars Laird Eriksen has written an interesting blog post about why academic texts often are so badly written. When academics try to write, it often becomes so full of jargon and it's a turture for the reader. So why is this so?
Here's his list:
1st reason for difficult language: Trying to sneak yourself to academic status.
2nd reason for difficult language: Not knowing exactly what you’re saying and hiding behind grand words.
3rd reason for difficult language: Being on a learning curve - still searching for the right words and images to convey your thoughts clearly. (The nice version of the 2nd reason…)
4th reason for difficult language: Common sense language is not specific enough.
5th reason for difficult language: Common sense language is too politicized.
6th reason for difficult language: Common sense language is what is being analysed.
Number 3 is the interesting one in his opinion:
It conveys to me that when an idea is better understood, it can be expressed more simply. This also explains why cutting-edge research often is difficult to read: No-one has thought these thoughts before, so we are still on the learning curve of making them easier to think and say.
Which reminds me: Sometimes a text is difficult to understand, even if it is written in plain language - it could be because it is saying something new and different, something requires the mind to change direction for a while and think differently.