Can scientific writing light up?
Our colleague, Virpi Yliraudanjoki, is currently holding an online course on Creativity for Scientific Writing at Palmenia University of Helsinki. I am a course as a visiting teacher. Virpi writes promisingly in course materials about how research conventions are breaking. We are heading in a direction where the author’s personality can be seen and different means of communication can be used more freely.
I am relieved about this, because I have had a recurring problem with the examiner’s work. Much of the scientific texts that should be read for my work are a dull reading of sleep. Interest in the subject – and the pressure to read a particular literature, so that you can call yourself a researcher in the field – helps weave through the texts. However, I can not ponder how much more fascinating many articles would have been if the authors’ personal voice had been more visible in them: if they were to see the person who did the research.
I do not mean that the author is the main character. It is only more comfortable to read texts that show that they are written by a person. Then the main purpose, the sharing of scientific knowledge, will also be better realized. Vividly written texts are simply easier to adopt than impersonal reports. Compare the reading of the Official Report X for reading the Hotakainen Runway Track. What’s the difference between them? The other is the presence of people, the other is just things.
I also have difficulty motivating me to produce the world with more impersonal texts. My hope would be that the reader would get new insights and aesthetic pleasure in addition to my research knowledge. I dream that the reader would love my productions. I don’t feel like getting here yet. So far I have käyskennellyt scientific writing somewhere in the middle ground cautiously availun compliance with the conventions and its own sound. Study time including I spent the academic world for 15 years. It requires a conscious effort and the courage to awaken from the safe boredom it has written to make it more alive.
Helen Sword, a teacher and poet at the University of Auckland, offers an inspiring perspective on the subject. He has studied the language of articles in various fields and has also asked researchers what kind of scientific texts they would like to read. Surprise, surprise: scientists prefer reading texts that include humor, real-life examples, enthusiasm and a personal voice.
However, most scientific writers have the impression that they do not have the “permission” to write personally. Sword, ask who authorizes. In his opinion, everyone can self-defeat practices. Even small choices can be of great importance for the readability of the text.
It is important to follow the basic criteria of research reporting, such as honesty, accuracy, criticality and transparency. There are also differences between research areas in how tight the conventions are today. But strong science does not rule out living writing. Scientific writing is about making thoughtful choices. This does not mean that you automatically follow unchanged practices.
What do you think – is the scientific text to be alive? Do you feel you have permission to write personally? What kind of scientific texts will ignite you?