Clarity in academic writing

Subject: Clarity in academic writing
From: "Robert Parker" <rparker -at- welkintech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 10:11:06 -0800

I refer anyone working with academic writing to Mary Claire vanLeunen's
superlative book "A Handbook for Scholars." Besides providing excellent
guides on references of all types, she encourages the academic to boldly and
fearlessly declutter their writing, saying what you mean clearly and simply.

And let me tell you, it's a *real* uphill battle. One of my doctoral
advisors, reviewing my final paper, told me that "You must have been working
in marketing, since you wrote this so anyone could understand it." (I wanted
to ask him whether enabling people to understand things should be avoided in
academic papers, but thought better of it.)

Yes, of course, the reader drives the tone, form, and contents of the
writing, blah blah blah (we all know the speech). But Shakespeare has been
quoted for hundreds of years while Marlowe hasn't, and it ain't because he
was better at "writing to the audience" at the Globe Theater in Elizabethan
England. The principles that make writing "good" provide an architecture and
a poetry that simultaneously buttresses and adorns even the hoariest of
technical topics. Take Occam's razor to your torpid academic prose and cut

Good luck,
Robert Parker
rparker -at- welkintech -dot- com
Welkin Technical Communications
We make technical communications concise, elegant, and effective.

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