Science is getting harder to read | Nature Index

“From obscure acronyms to unnecessary jargon, research papers are increasingly impenetrable – even for scientists….

Kipling Williams, a psychologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who has written about jargon and acronyms hampering science communication, says the increase in technical language only isolates non-specialist readers. 

He adds that academic papers should be written in a more accommodating way for informed readers who are not researchers, such as policymakers, journalists, and patients.

“The public is paying for a lot of this research, and so they should be able to at least get a reasonable handle on what’s being said.” ”

Editorial: ‘Jargon’ in scholarly and public science communication – Hans Peter Peters, 2020

“Yet, accessibility [intelligibility] of scholarly texts by interested readers outside the narrow scientific community is relevant for the widespread demand for more interdisciplinarity and the call for transdisciplinarity, transparency and open science.  Scientific jargon may be thought to facilitate efficient communication among peers who share that discipline-specific language. But the effects of jargon may go beyond that goal and serve functions of identity creation and demarcation – both of science in relation to non-science as a form of scientists’ boundary work (Gieryn) and of creating disciplinary identities within science. Such a function of jargon would actually run counter to the principles of interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and open science.”

Editorial: ‘Jargon’ in scholarly and public science communication – Hans Peter Peters, 2020

“Yet, accessibility [intelligibility] of scholarly texts by interested readers outside the narrow scientific community is relevant for the widespread demand for more interdisciplinarity and the call for transdisciplinarity, transparency and open science.  Scientific jargon may be thought to facilitate efficient communication among peers who share that discipline-specific language. But the effects of jargon may go beyond that goal and serve functions of identity creation and demarcation – both of science in relation to non-science as a form of scientists’ boundary work (Gieryn) and of creating disciplinary identities within science. Such a function of jargon would actually run counter to the principles of interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and open science.”

Plain Language Summary of Publication articles: helping disseminate published scientific articles to patients | Future Oncology

“Future Science Group (FSG) is keen to recognize and promote the vital role of patients in medical and scientific research, and as such, has introduced a new article type to its collection – the Plain Language Summary of Publication (PLSP). The present issue of Future Oncology features, as the first in this series, a standalone, peer-reviewed, open access PLSP article [6], which provides a visually enriched summary of a recently published research article [7]. PLSP articles are written to be read and understood by patients, patient advocates, their family members, friends and caregivers. The article will also enable other non-specialist clinicians, research scientists, decision-makers and a range of professionals in the health care community to gain an understanding of the research presented.

PLSP articles are written under the assumption that the audience has no background understanding of the study, medical terminology or clinical research in general. Each PLSP, however, will have a different style depending on the subject matter and a ‘personalized’ approach to writing each PLSP will be necessary in order to meet the educational requirements of the intended audience. For example, in the case of rare diseases, where patient readers are often well informed about the subject, a more ‘technically written’ PLSP may be considered. We recommend that all authors planning to write a PLSP first review the PLSP toolkit developed by Envision Pharma with support from PFMD, along with our own author guidelines [8]….”

Content marketing boosts open access adoption | Research Information

“But the lack of widespread adoption of OA is often blamed for slowing down research progress. The truth is, accessing the literature is only half of the story. The other half is the obstacle created by the use of specialised language in the literature. That is, the inability to understand the meaning of the research represents an even greater hindrance than access to multidisciplinary collaboration and open science. It is, therefore, important to carefully consider developing value-added content that is designed to make the original OA research accessible to a wider audience….

This approach requires OA publishers to include the option of adding a marketing fee to the APC….”

A web application to extract key information from journal articles

“Non-expert readers are thus typically unable to understand scientific articles, unless they are curated and made more accessible by third parties who understand the concepts and ideas contained within them. With this in mind, a team of researchers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center in the University of Texas at Austin (TACC), Oregon State University (OSU) and the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) have set out to develop a tool that can automatically extract important phrases and terminology from research papers in order to provide useful definitions and enhance their readability….”

Understanding Open Access Data Using Visuals: Integrating Prospective Studies of Children’s Responses to Natural Disasters | SpringerLink

Abstract:  Background

As access to open data is increasing, researchers gain the opportunity to build integrated datasets and to conduct more powerful statistical analyses. However, using open access data presents challenges for researchers in understanding the data. Visuals allow researchers to address these challenges by facilitating a greater understanding of the information available.

Objectives

This paper illustrates how visuals can address the challenges that researchers face when using open access data, such as: (1) becoming familiar with the data, (2) identifying patterns and trends within the data, and (3) determining how to integrate data from multiple studies.

Method

This paper uses data from an integrative data analysis study that combined data from prospective studies of children’s responses to four natural disasters: Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Ike. The integrated dataset assessed hurricane exposure, posttraumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, social support, and life events among 1707 participants (53.61% female). The children’s ages ranged from 7 to 16 years (M?=?9.61, SD?=?1.60).

Results

Visuals serve as an effective method for understanding new and unfamiliar datasets.

Conclusions

In response to the growth of open access data, researchers must develop the skills necessary to create informative visuals. Most research-based graduate programs do not require programming-based courses for graduation. More opportunities for training in programming languages need to be offered so that future researchers are better prepared to understand new data. This paper discusses implications of current graduate course requirements and standard journal practices on how researchers visualize data.

Open+: Versioning Open Social Scholarship

Abstract:  Advocates of the Open Access (OA) movement have been fighting for free and unfettered access to research output since the early 1990s. Open access is a crucial element of a fair, efficient scholarly communication system where all are able to find, interpret, and use the results of publicly-funded research. Universal open access is more possible now than ever before, thanks to networked technologies and the development of open scholarship policies. But what happens after access to research is provided? In this paper I argue that versioning scholarship across varying modes and formats would move scholarly communication from a straightforward open access system to a more engaging environment for multiple communities.

[From the body of the paper:] “Here is my suggestion for simultaneously upholding important traditions of humanistic scholarship (e.g. peer review, long-form writing), as well as taking advantage of digital technologies, while committing to open scholarship as a de facto public good and ethical imperative of higher education: versioning. Ideas gain depth and traction as they are brought to light, discussed, reviewed, and refuted. This process of refinement is how we develop convincing arguments. Instead of thinking of “lowbrow” or opular communication mechanisms as outside of the scholarly communication process, or else as a public record or starting point for an idea, what if we considered multiple versions of an argument as equally important and requiring of our sustained effort and attention? The germ of any research output is the main argument or theory—what if that germ was sprouted in various venues and forms? One could simultaneously or sequentially publish a long-form argument via open access academic journal article; work with a journalist or writer colleague to explore the same argument in a more public, online venue—revised as appropriate for such a modality; post a truncated version of the argument on a personal blog as an easy referent; and create short, pithy social media encapsulations of the argument as well. Each mode of engagement will engender different reactions and feedback, as different audiences will collaborate and create knowledge at each interaction point (Arbuckle & Stewart 2017)….”

Making research accessible to inform better policy decisions | Think Tank Initiative

We can’t expect policymakers to just know what policies are best for a given context – to make better decisions, they need evidence. This is why local data and research are so important, as they can inform policies to be more effective, and to better respond to on-the-ground realities. Yet academic research does not speak for itself. In fact, it is estimated that, on average, academic papers may be read by as few as 10 people….

When I began this study I was surprised to find that, while the term “accessibility” is used frequently, it is not clearly defined and appears to have different meanings for different people. For example, does it refer to the availability of research? Its usability? Something else? In the end, I decided to work with a concept of accessibility drawn from an information sciences study that highlights three dimensions: physical, intellectual, and social (read more about this concept in this open access article)….

Seeing research as a public good – a contribution towards our communal stock of knowledge – highlights the importance of research accessibility for all. I would argue that there is a moral imperative for all researchers to try and make their work as accessible as possible.  Increasing accessibility can help research to inform other studies, or may lead to findings being applied in different contexts and at different scales. …”