Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Science reports "too dry"?

Here's a brief item in New Scientist reporting on a study made by linguist of typical "biomedical" research reports. The linguists state that the papers would be "easier to understand" if authors "used more sensory words".

The item concludes with this sentence: "However, Athar Yawar, a senior editor at The Lancet, thinks that any change would require a rethink of scientific method to incorporate sensory experience as well as its usual abstract concepts."

What do you think the linguists mean by "sensory words"? Can a scientific report benefit from more "sensory words"? Would you expect a substantive difference between such words and the kind of statements made in a typical scientific report?

What do you think of the idea of using them in this context, for this purpose?

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