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Coming down from the clouds: On academic writing

from The Chronicle of Higher Education

It has become a trope, a joke perhaps, to comment on how bad academic writing is. Thus, in a recent essay touting a program to help academics write more clearly for the public, Naomi Wolf and Sacha Kopp threw in the now-standard critique of academic writing: "The transmission of our ideas is routinely hampered — understandably, given academe's publication, evaluation, and tenure conditions — by a great deal of peer-oriented jargon. As a result, the most exciting ideas, hard-won insights, and relevant hypotheses end up clothed in language that only specialists can understand. Academe's publication structure then exacerbates the segregation by corralling this rich, important set of ideas within a tiny niche readership — in costly book-distribution contexts or expensive academic journals behind digital paywalls." more

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