Do not Confuse Clarity with Complexity with use of Scholarly Language

Good morning scholars—

The challenge for us this week is what it means to write as an academic and perhaps a doctoral scholar.  Many students in particular think that writing as a scholar means to use sophisticated vocabulary with many very long words in an effort to impress one’s audience.  Instead, what often happens is an obfuscation of meaning and the inability for your reader to follow your intention. Said another way: your writer doesn’t get what you’re trying to say.

Do not confuse complexity of language with clarity and concise writing. One does not have to write as if one swallowed a dictionary whole, trying to impress one’s audience with complex words and terminology.  Instead, the goal is clarity and conciseness in one’s writing.

Remember the goal of writing is to create a relationship with your audience as one is taking them on a journey.  The ultimate goal is to ensure that your reader can follow you every step of the way.  Our end results is not to leave questions in the minds of our reader.  Why? Unless there is an opportunity to follow up with your reader to answer those questions, our writing has to stand on its own.  Particularly for the doctoral student in the dissertation process, questions means kickbacks or return of a dissertation draft by someone in the review process, which translates to more time and more money.  Let’s focus more on our writing for this opportunity to connect the first time, to avoid the need for further revision.

A good strategy is to look to outlining your paper and review of paragraph construction to ensure that you say what you mean and mean what you say.  Ask yourself: are all the details here? Is there evidence to support my point of view? Can my reader follow the logic in my argument? Does my reader know exactly the conclusion I want them to come to as a result of what I have shared with them?  Be sure to stay in control of the narrative in both language choice and idea construction. Keep in mind that an idea can be sophisticated and complex yet elegantly simple in its presentation to ensure that your reader understands exactly what you mean to say.

Remember the KISS Method–Keep It Simple Sweetheart.  Present your ideas with confidence and clarity, with evidence and purpose, with a clear path to complete understanding by your reader.   The more complicated language in both word choice and grammar we choose, the more difficult of a path we may have with making a connection with our audience.

Happy writing!

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
The Academic Entrepreneur

April 18th, 2018 by admin

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