The De-Jargonizer: a tool to help make your writing more accessible.
25 August 2017
Public Engagement - report
I just came across this here 'De-Jarganizer' tool whilst skimming through Twitter - as you do:
It's often rule number one (once you've figured out what the point of an article is and who your audience is) to make sure that you avoid jargon where possible when communicating to a non-specialist audience. It's tough because we're trained to communicate in a way that makes sense within our disciplines, and generally most people around us understand, or have the confidence to work it out - but it can be a massive turn off for anyone not 'in the know'. I'm always telling people it's the ideas that matter, and knowledge isn't intelligence, so you can make your writing so much more engaging by thinking carefully about the best, most accessible way to convey the concepts and ideas you want to get across. So it's wonderful that such a tool has come along as it can be quite hard to judge when something is or isn't jargon or just complicated language.
It looks pretty cool; have a look - you can just copy and paste text in, or upload a file and it spits out a fairly basic measure, highlights words to look again at, etc.
This one was developed on the basis of articles published by the BBC and intended specifically to be scientist friendly, you can read more about that here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181742.
There's a hundred and one tools out there to help assess writing, including https://readable.io/text/.
If you use it, let us know how you found it - would you recommend it compared to other tools?
Below are some 'top tips' that we put together when helping researchers write very brief synopses of their research for an event:.
Some top tips are:
- Write in the active, not the passive.
- Don’t use a big word when a singularly unloquacious and diminutive linguistic expression will satisfactorily accomplish the contemporary necessity.
- Use short sentences.
- Avoid jargon and acronym soup: try using the 'Up-Goer V' editor to strip your text of words that aren't common in plain english: http://splasho.com/upgoer5/ .
- Does it pass the ‘Hey!’ test? If you put ‘Hey!’ in front of your first sentence, does the tone and style still work?
- Think really carefully about what concepts or ideas are important to get across rather than details – but also think about what non-specialists are likely to know about.
- Use a tool to check to readability score.
What to read next
I'm a Scientist... is an online public engagement activity that gets scientists from across the UK talking to school children. There's also a version for engineers.