Academic writing styles…

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I have been reading a bunch of material about sense-making. Most of online at various websites (that shall remain nameless), written by people who are scary smart. Essentially I always am looking for stuff that might augment Dialogue Mapping and improve my facilitation and analytical skills. I am in the middle of an online article that has been a bit of a struggle, so I stopped to write this quick post.

Some of the stuff that I have been reading is really good – brilliant in fact, but sadly, no-one will ever know. The great sad irony is that sense-making tools and methods are there to help a group improve their shared understanding. Yet the papers and articles that I read are so damn dry, written in a pontificatory, academic style that I, as someone who works in this area, really struggles to maintain focus after the first page. The stuff I have read offers some truly innovative methods of improving the lot of a group or team trying to deal with difficult issues. But sadly, they are destined to be ignored or remain on the fringes while practitioners persist in writing in such an inaccessible style.

I get the whole peer-reviewed thing and I think the rigour behind many of the content is exemplary. But surely, if you are creating frameworks, tools or methods to help people understand difficult issues, how is that supposed to be achieved if the explanations put that very audience to sleep?

Now excuse me while I load up with a double shot coffee so I can get through rest of the website article that I am reading…

Paul Culmsee

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3 Responses to Academic writing styles…

  1. The other major issue with the language often used in these cases is that it does not translate well. It limits by it’s very complex nature the potential target audience.

    Sadly most of the time it’s not necessary, but to be fair if you don’t flex your vocabulary muscles they won’t grow and will deteriorate. Add that to a culture of academics where higher level English is considered more intelligent (by the culture) and it becomes very challenging to change. It also happens with tech speak fairly often. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology and phrases then you won’t be able to keep up with many conversations.

    I can’t think of a solution though unless we use less and less words and more and more images.

    Just some thoughts,
    Richard Harbridge

  2. admin says:

    I just found it ironic that any article where the topic is around organisational collaboration and communication should be so inaccessible 🙂

  3. And despite of it all, Writing alone has different styles with Authors that could only answer online readers\’ questions.

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