- Rewrite these passages to make the “characters” the grammatical subjects and the key “actions” the verbs. That is, make them clearer.
A. The scarcity of research funds for nutritional scientists means that offers by food companies to fund such research may be especially attractive. The implicit pressure to shape the language of the findings to avoid alienation between scholars and companies is worrisome to consider.
B. While educational experiences are an obvious benefit of tribal colleges, the needs tribal communities have for economic development, cultural vitality, and social ties are also addressed by educational institutions.
- Take these straightforward passages and make them less clear without changing the meaning. Turn verbs into nouns and make subjects into objects.
A. “Statisticians prepared to use spatial models need to keep the role of the models in perspective. When scientific interest centers on the large-scale effects, the idea is to use a few extra small-scale parameters so that the large-scale parameters are estimated more efficiently.”1
B. “Social scientists will be led astray if they accept the lies organizations tell about themselves. If, instead, they look for places where the stories told don’t hold up, for the events and activities those speaking for the organization ignore, cover up, or explain away, they will find a wealth of things to include in the body of material from which they construct their definitions.”2
- Edit these passages for concision, using the three moves described above. Be sure to preserve all of the meaning contained in the original.
A. Each and every student enrolled in our educational institutions deserves and is entitled to competent instruction in all of the key academic areas of study. No student should be without ample time and help in mastering such basic skills.
B. If you really have no choice in regards to avoiding a long and extended bureaucratic process in making your complaint, it is very important that you write down and document every aspect of the case for use by all of the parties involved in the process.
- Richard Lanham’s popular book (Revising Prose, 5th ed., New York: Longman, 2006) offers a well specified method for turning academese into clear, straightforward language. The Online Writing Laboratory at Purdue University offers a short handout about Lanham’s method.
- Several writing centers at colleges and universities offer good advice for spotting and avoiding clichés. Among the most useful are those at the University of Richmond and the University of Texas.
1Noel A.C. Cressie, Statistics for Spatial Data (New York: Wiley, 1991), 435.
2Howard S. Becker, Tricks of the Trade: How To Think About Your Research While You’re Doing It (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 118.