Response to John,
Hello, John, interesting perspective!! You have actually admitted to writing boring research; that is courageous of you to admit. What you say is true; most research papers over-complicate the concepts, and all one is left doing is skimming through or losing interest altogether. It is as if research authors aim to impress their peers with all the jargon they use while forgetting that an average scholar or even any interested person in the particular field of research would like to read and understand the papers they write.
I do not know much about the Center for Plain Language, but it is ironic that the English language would need to be translated for people to understand it. When research becomes so complicated that it calls for other experts to ‘detangle’ the mess, then there is a big problem. It is no longer a matter of providing knowledge to the public and peers on particular research but rather a matter of showing-off literal and other skills. That basically puts most of today’s research papers under the ‘useless papers category’; they do not increase knowledge to the masses.
Lastly, today’s researcher is faced with a challenge not experienced in the 70s and 80s, the overflow of information. Search engines on the internet will provide you with a million and one sources for any particular research that you would like to work on. There are numerous books on almost any topic a researcher would like to pursue. This makes it harder to filter what is and is not and to conduct unique research that no one else on the face of the earth has done.
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Boring Writing – Something We All Can Agree On
This prompt needed to be said. I will say I have had some very stimulating and thought-provoking classes over the course of my MBA studies. The type of reading that challenges the way I think and may even alter my life to some degree. This is a welcome result of this program that I did not count on or expect to have and one that helps ensure whatever knowledge I have gained will be retained beyond the end of the class.
Conversely, most of the research I have done has centered around some very dense and wordy material. Whether the research was for a corporate finance or international business, I have found exactly what this prompt alludes to: many “well-read” researchers unnecessarily over-complicate concepts. This occurs to a degree that the reader (i.e. me) will lose interest or generally skim the work. I understand how bad that sounds. In the interest of transparency, I believe true experts are able to take incredibly complex issues and communicate them in simple terms- not the other way around. I know certain topics are more complicated than others, but never have I seen or read any research that makes something easier to comprehend by making it more complicated.
I am guilty of complicating things as well. I often will add sentences or academic fluff to help make whatever point being made more salient or powerful. I have caught myself writing too creatively for a “business” paper or essay and have reminded myself to try to sound more academic and knowledgeable. Thankfully, people like Annetta Cheek exist. Cheek is the co-founder for the non-profit Center for Plain Language (Clayton, 2015). This center serves to promote the use of “clear and concise language” in law and science but also in general research. It sounds like a somewhat sarcastic idea, but agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Health and Human Services and the Financial Protection Bureau have used this idea to reduce the complexity of their content (Clayton, 2015). This would be a welcome sight for my work in the mortgage industry. I am amazed day by the technical jargon and needless red tape that makes each step of my job a tedious one. What makes my daily research difficult to read is the overflow of information that comes from one simple question and the countless contextual scenarios that flow from it as a result.
The first Bible verse that came to mind was Matthew 5:37 “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (English Standard Version). This verse is a great reminder that God values authenticity and simplicity. This is something I strive for not only in my personal life, but in my academic and professional life as well.
Clayton, V. (2015, October 27). Why Is Academic Writing So Needlessly Complex? Retrieved November 10, 2019, from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/complex-academic-writing/412255/.
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