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Simple and Clear

Jargon in scientific papers can turn readers off and affect their knowledge of and engagement with science, Nature Careers reports.

An Ohio State University team randomly assigned 650 people to read a paragraph on technical topics like self-driving cars, robotic surgery, and 3D bioprinting. Half the reading samples were laden with jargon and half were not. As they report in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, the Ohio State team found that jargon — even when the terms are defined — affected people's ability to understand what they were reading as well as make them think they were less knowledgeable about science and discouraged them from seeking more information.

As Nature Careers notes, there are steps researchers can take to limit the technical jargon in their work, such as using an online tool developed by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's Ayelet Baram-Tsaba called the De-Jargonizer that rates the accessibility of text. Additionally, Baram-Tsaba also has found media training may help researchers present their ideas more clearly.