Emoticons were designed to express in one glyph a rich cognitive-
emotional reaction at a time when readers’ span of attention is approaching epsilon. Since the style guides of most scholarly journals do not recommend the use of emoticons, researchers were induced to develop new modes of expression to promptly convey complex scientific data to the busy reader. The best practices reveal some of the more productive techniques emerging in the literature.
With the exponential growth in scholarship, there are now more articles in every field than hours in the lives of their potential readers. The following best practices will help your readers appreciate and cite your contribution.
Begin by showing how your inquiry is situated at the heart of the growing interest in your hyphenated discipline. Marvel how in recent years research has expanded in your subniche, and express surprise at the scarcity of studies conducted from the particular angle of the exact aspect you propose despite previous calls (include reference to yourself) for just this type of investigation.
Contribution. Most readers have barely time to skim the text, therefore you must spell out the contribution of the article at least once in the abstract, the introduction, and the conclusion to make sure they don’t miss it. Stress the importance of the study and mention how it expands knowledge and fills lacunae (more about the use of Latin below).
To show that your work is relevant and in step with the times, make sure to theorize the problem, problematize your theory, and otherwise operationalize, contextualize, literalize, glocalize or deterritorialize it, as the case may be. Elaborate your thesis in the broadest possible terms, mustering in its support the most abstract and vague terms at your command not to compromise its generalizability.
If your genome project produces more data than the CERN accelerator, machine learning experts are standing by to reduce its dimensions and make it fit your model to a tee. If contrariwise, you’re short of data, Amazon Turks (a new ethnic group) are ready to go to work for pennies, answering your research questions and delivering evidence for your hypotheses.
Make sure your paradigms reside either on a continuum or at an intersection, where you can easily engage with, scaffold, interrogate, and triangulate them.
If your results are consistent with previous research and confirm earlier findings, terms like unique, trailblazing, pioneering, and groundbreaking can help you point out that your study was first to extend the model to Ashkenazi goatherds with hemophilia in the southern Carpathians.
A picture is worth 1000 words (see clichés below),1 especially one that requires 1000 words to explain what it shows. If you use tables, make sure you repeat in the text what can be seen in every cell. If you quote excerpts, don’t forget to paraphrase them immediately after.
As noted above,2 readers are likely to skim the text for keywords and cannot be trusted to pick up on the important points (more about repetition with slightly different words below). Therefore, you must draw attention to these. This is what the word importantly was coined for. When it is really important, use crucially, or to perk up the reader, surprisingly. Reserve “it is interesting to note” for points that don’t follow from the preceding argument but for which you nevertheless want a smooth transition.
Importantly (see above), give readers repeated heads-up of what to expect on the next page to spare them the shock of unanticipated details, and remind them frequently of what you have just said, in case their memory fails midway through the article. Similarly, before a new heading, at the end of the previous section, describe briefly what the next section contains. We now proceed to the discussion of the results, where you can truly show your mettle and display your rhetorical skills.
To make a lasting impression, use jargon liberally and repeat it as often as possible to produce the kind of mannerism that firmly imprints your personal style on the manuscript.
Detrivialize. Unfortunately (see adverbs below), on occasion you must talk about such trivial topics as home, school, state, or the environment. But it doesn’t mean that you must turn in your Conceptual Frameworkers’ Union card. You can still sound like a critical theorist if you only replace family with family system, country with national context, explain with unpack, classroom with teaching-
Use Latin whenever possible to sound like Erasmus, Thomas More, and Newton. When a viable Latin term exists for an English one, like via for by, quasi for almost, or corpus for body, never fail to use it. If in law, free utilities will automatically replace among others with inter alia, connection with nexus, in itself with per se, mode of operation with modus operandi, in good faith with bona fide, even more so with a fortiori, etc. (the pro version also inserts hyphens between any two Latin words, e.g., de-facto and vice-
If you have difficulty expressing complex ideas in plain words, you can achieve almost the same effect using complicated terms to describe simple notions. But the standard English vocabulary may not be rich enough to accommodate the subtle discriminations you wish to make. If so, don’t hesitate to make up new words. You missed the boat on commognitive, technicization, governmentality, deliverology, groupishness, parentification, and neo-
William Safire urged us to avoid clichés like the plague, but that’s ancient history. We’ve come a long way since then. Also, academic clichés are in a class by themselves. Currently trending are greater than the sum of its parts, taken together, one size does not fit all, beyond the state of the art, and hyphenated superlatives like cutting-
Use adjectives, adverbs, and adverbial phrases copiously to liven up and lighten your prose with such time-
Use at least once per page: impact (preferably major, unless it is a verb), context, paradigm (works best with shift), model, system, framework, vector (never as a quantity), perspective, network, discourse, narrative, focus, ecosystem (only in matters unrelated to the environment), DNA (when it has nothing to do with genetics), relevant, array, albeit, multifaceted, extant (for literature, to differentiate it from the extinct type). When in doubt, use the longer word. To quote Churchill, “I have nothing to offer but hemoglobin, exertion, sobbing, and perspiration.” Globally replace because with owing to the fact that and how (conj.) with the manner in which. Conjunctions, etc. are always fertile ground for displaying good-
Repetitio est mater studiorum (a double winner, both a cliché and Latin). Busy readers, who must go through dozens of articles like yours in a short time, are likely to skim it for keywords. Therefore, you must repeat everything at least three times to make sure it sinks in. Redundancy is essential for driving the point home, as in a possible explanation could be, preregister in advance, sufficient enough, nearly half (48%), balancing equilibrium, or existing status quo (showing also a touch of Latin).
Remember to include all the things you forgot to do in the limitations sections and call for future studies (your project underway) to deal with them.
If the article is rejected on the first few submissions, don’t lose heart. Sooner or later it will be published because the number of journals is rapidly approaching the number of articles.
* G.L., PhD, is an editor who in the past 20 years has been complicit (pace, Ivanka) in the publication of more than 2,000 academic articles. I wish to thank my authors for invaluable assistance in the writing of this essay.
1 Infra 2 about referring the reader forward and backward through the article.
2 Supra 1 about the importance of shuttling the reader back and forth.
|The Daughters of Corpus Linguistics
|Mix & Match ¶¶
|SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 4 Contents|