The common complaint: academic writing is too complicated/hard/impenetrable

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dr-ds-dg-2wrd
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#1
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#1
You hear the complaint that academic writing is too complicated/hard/impenetrable so often. Often followed by: Why do they write like that?

To be honest, I'm a bit bored with it. It seems like it's become the 'go-to' for a lot of students when they didn't like/understand the reading.

We all have readings we don't get on with.

But it feels lazy and unproductive to leave the conversation at that.

Where do we go from there?

How can we develop this conversation? Any ideas or responses to this?
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GabiAbi84
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#2
(Original post by dr-ds-dg-2wrd)
You hear the complaint that academic writing is too complicated/hard/impenetrable so often. Often followed by: Why do they write like that?

To be honest, I'm a bit bored with it. It seems like it's become the 'go-to' for a lot of students when they didn't like/understand the reading.

We all have readings we don't get on with.

But it feels lazy and unproductive to leave the conversation at that.

Where do we go from there?

How can we develop this conversation? Any ideas or responses to this?
It depends on what you mean by “academic writing” -if you mean research papers they are often very badly written. Sometimes because they try to make it sound smarter and gatekeep the knowledge so that only those in the field will be able to understand. Sometimes just because it is very poorly written, wouldn’t even get a pass if submitted at university, work.

It is sometimes the case that some courses never really teach you how to read these papers and so you’re left looking at something that seems so far over your head that it’s a struggle to make sense of.

Personally I feel like some published papers should have to be re-written before they are published.
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Joleee
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#3
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not sure if i've heard that myself but i study law and academic writing in this area is quite simplistic; like no fancy language used since the purpose is to get across a clear message. only difficult reading are judgments written a few decades ago or even older than that. perhaps these students who complain they can't follow the text are reading old writings? :dontknow:
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journeyaway
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#4
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(Original post by Joleee)
not sure if i've heard that myself but i study law and academic writing in this area is quite simplistic; like no fancy language used since the purpose is to get across a clear message. only difficult reading are judgments written a few decades ago or even older than that. perhaps these students who complain they can't follow the text are reading old writings? :dontknow:
Law and Politics graduate here agreeing to what you have said. The emphasis is on plain English, active sentences, and clear signposting. Inevitably there will be subject-specific jargon and terminology, much like I'm sure there is in other subject areas, but the writing should be accessible/understandable to the person studying in that area, and on that level.

Readings such as text books/articles are assigned because they serve as starting points to learning, or are fundamental to the curriculum in some way. The learning curve can of course be steep - but that's why being a student is challenging. That's how you learn to tackle material.

I'll admit that I have struggled in Philosophy papers, thanks to some of the old writings I had to delve into. But it's simple enough to get resources online, and to do some cross-referencing with your own understanding.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by journeyaway)
Law and Politics graduate here agreeing to what you have said. The emphasis is on plain English, active sentences, and clear signposting. Inevitably there will be subject-specific jargon and terminology, much like I'm sure there is in other subject areas, but the writing should be accessible/understandable to the person studying in that area, and on that level.

Readings such as text books/articles are assigned because they serve as starting points to learning, or are fundamental to the curriculum in some way. The learning curve can of course be steep - but that's why being a student is challenging. That's how you learn to tackle material.

I'll admit that I have struggled in Philosophy papers, thanks to some of the old writings I had to delve into. But it's simple enough to get resources online, and to do some cross-referencing with your own understanding.
But at some point in the late 1960s or early 1970s academic sociology and its offshoots lost all connection with the rest of the English language.
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Napp
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#6
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#6
Well theyre not wrong, the whole point of academic writing is its loaded with information i.e. dense. Whether its impenetrable depends on the writer and their ability to use language to engage//the students interest,

If youre reading a students writing, it isnt helped by the fact half of them are deliberately trying to pump up the word count to meet word counts.

Leaving the excuse as 'lazy and unproductive' is ironic in that is what is being done, in of itself though,
Last edited by Napp; 4 months ago
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brjf
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#7
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#7
(Original post by Joleee)
not sure if i've heard that myself but i study law and academic writing in this area is quite simplistic; like no fancy language used since the purpose is to get across a clear message. only difficult reading are judgments written a few decades ago or even older than that. perhaps these students who complain they can't follow the text are reading old writings? :dontknow:
Same concept and principle of writing within politics too
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