Dr. Bill Miller pointed out the flip-side of challenging reads: it's not that the content is necessarily complicated, but that it is likely poorly written.
The way we write and the way we speak are often miles apart.
A colleague skims your specific aims page, and asks “But what are you trying to say?” The words that come out of your mouth (hopefully) leave your colleague nodding their head, and saying “Ah, okay”.
So why don’t we change what we write?
When we sit down to write, the words that show up on the page are often twirling in our heads, influenced by other papers we have read, and so they come out in those formatted sentences with over-elaborate verbs.
We can sit down to edit it, moving main points to the front, making sure transitions connect each idea.
Or you can try to change how the words get on the page in the first place.
how to write clearly
There are 2 basic ideas that can get you started on the path to writing clearer
1. Write shorter sentences
2. Choose simpler words as long as the meaning stays the same
Want to learn more about how to improve your writing style?
Check out this article, The Science of Science Writing, for guidance on science communication. Written by George Gopen and Judith Swan.
Or check out this classic, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White that almost every professor I've had has recommended.*
Quote of the Day:
"Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”
– Ernest Hemingway
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through the link, a small amount of money will go to me (at no extra cost to you). This money is used to submit abstracts, attend conferences, and support me while I run challenges like the #EpiWritingChallenge.
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