Nurturing students' natural writing style to better communicate research to the public

Caldwell Brown, Steven (2017) Nurturing students' natural writing style to better communicate research to the public. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. ISSN 2332-211X (In Press)

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    Abstract

    In many institutions, students are given the instruction to model their written work on existing published work. However, scholars typically write for other scholars, and this can lead to the so-called ‘curse of knowledge’, a cognitive bias wherein experts struggle to adopt the point of view of less knowledgeable parties. Students modelling their work on that of published academic works may be jeopardising their ability to communicate science clearly to laypersons, an emerging priority in academia. This article provides a wide-ranging discussion of this issue, informed by the findings from a pilot study which suggest that laypersons perceive the writing of students to be clearer, easier to understand and more detailed than the writing of established researchers. Regardless of intended career path, it is imperative that psychology graduates be able to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and this article highlights the tangible implications of discouraging students from assimilating into a writing style typical of scholars which may prove outdated when open-access publications become mainstream.