KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jargon and Plain Language in Science Writing

My authors who write reports on their research for publication in medical journals tend to use a lot of jargon. I try to help them make their writing easier to understand for the very reason discussed in this New York Times article:

"[A] team of researchers has analyzed jargon in a set of over 21,000 scientific manuscripts. They found that papers containing higher proportions of jargon in their titles and abstracts were cited less frequently by other researchers. Science communication—with the public but also among scientists—suffers when a research paper is packed with too much specialized terminology, the team concluded."

I'm not at all suggesting that my authors completely eliminate jargon in such reports. But I ask them to use plainer language wherever possible, and even to define some of the terms, because people other than their departmental supervisor, who insisted that true professionals write impenetrable prose, are going to read their articles. And those people need to be able to understand the articles so that nonscientists in government and in the general public don't make unscientific decisions concerning public health and the environment.

Take a look at this blog post by my colleague Mike Pope on "good" and "bad" jargon.

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