student life

4 Examples of Scientists Trying too Hard

We don't want our research to sit on a shelf. Let's practice sharing it on Medium as well as in Nature!

Facile

This word, on Google Scholar, yields over 2.5 million results. What does facile mean? It means “easy” or “simple.” So why not say that? Doesn’t using a word like “facile” defeat the whole purpose of the word?

Singultus

Hiccups. Literally just hiccups. My puppy is currently plagued with them, hence my recent fascination.

ReLU Function

If it’s positive, change nothing. If it’s negative, make it zero. I learned about this in a machine learning application, which is complicated enough so why use intimidating names?

All of Scientific Literature

A recent study suggests that science papers are getting harder to read – steadily decreasing in accessibility since 1881. This is due to technical jargon (like singultus), obnoxious vocabulary (like facile), and sentence structure more concerned with impressing than educating readers (like this one).


Going Against the Flow

So what’s a budding scientist to do? There have been recent pushes for teaching scientists to communicate more effectively. My own school, for example, has been pushing a Three Minute Thesis initiative for students to practice putting their graduate research into short, easy-to-understand presentations. I’ve heard postdocs advocate training in business, where you can learn how to put your research into an elevator pitch for investors or senators.

I’m definitely excited about these kinds of trends! The next generation of scientists may well be influenced by the TED talk – no one wants their research to sit on a shelf in lab. They want it to impact people! Practice sharing it on Medium as well as in Nature, whether that impact advances medicine or inspires a sense of wonder.

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