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PSY379 - Seibert

Writing for a General Audience

  • Avoid disciplinary jargon
    • Replace unnecessary jargon with a simpler phrase or word
    • If you can't replace it, define the term (for people who don't have a background in your discipline)
  • Write simply, concisely, and directly
  • Don't be overly wordy
  • Use active voice
  • Write positively
  • Titles and/or headings should be short, yet highlight what is unique or important about that section
  • Write a chronological narrative
  • Your introduction should hook your reader - Open with a relevant quotation, question, story, problem, declarative statement, or illustration that encapsulates what you want to say about that subject
    • Provide the reader with enough context and background so that they understand the main argument and importance of the research
  • Provide lots of examples to make abstract concepts concrete; use anecdotes or descriptive imagery
  • Avoid charts and tables that would be difficult for a non-expert to interpret 

What Type of Article is This?

Popular Scholarly*

Purpose: To share news or entertainment with the reader

Purpose: To share original research and scholarly debates with the reader
Authors: Writers usually work for the publication. They are likely journalists or content specialists Authors: Writers do not work for the publication. They are experts in their field (PhDs, MDs, etc) who likely work for a university or research institution
Scope: Varied topics of interest to a broad audience Scope: Narrowly focused topics related to the subject of the journal
Audience: Non-experts (general public) Audience: Experts in a discipline (scholars/students)
Other Features: Articles generally do not cite sources or include bibliographies; Writing is easy to understand for the average person who has no background in the subject; Articles are short (a couple of pages) Other Features: Articles cite sources and include bibliographies; Writing is geared toward readers who have background knowledge of the subject and understand discipline specific jargon; Articles are long (~15-20 pages on average)

*Remember – Academic journals contain several different kinds of writing. For your assignments, you need to find empirical research (scholarly) articles­. You do not want to use a book review, literature review, editorial review, research note or letter.

It's not just you...the drawing in the article below is a bit creepy looking...