More thoughts on academic writing

While “academic” might not be as accurate as “social scientific” in this statement, I like the notion enough to give it a sort of permanent self-retweet here:


It’s tough to remember—and even tougher to put into practice when you think you’ve found a way to say something that turns out to be too clever by half—so let’s just call this another public commitment for my own work.

Three (adapted) rules for academic writing that I really need to remember

George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language is one of my favorites—at times a bit reaching, but often enough an excellent reminder of the value of clear¬†language—and after re-reading it this morning, I pulled out these three rules for writing (in fairness, his list is a bit longer) that I’m putting here for no other reason than to remind myself of them:

  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.

Public commitment at blogging best. Let’s see how I do.


* for more Orwell, check out this running transcription of his diaries 1938-1942, in “real time” seventy years later.