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Journal of «Almaz – Antey» Air and Space Defence Corporation

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. Journal of «Almaz – Antey» Air and Space Defence Corporation. 2016;(1):3-4.

 

In the past it was generally thought that the language of science should be clear and concise. As a well-known A. Schopenhauer’s saying goes, “Whatever is well conceived is clearly said.” Russian classics also touched this subject: “People write wisely about things they do not understand” (V. O. Klyuchevsky), “Language should be simple and dainty” (A. P. Chekhov). A robust rule used to prevail – to write “plainly about complicated things.”

Since then, our life changed drastically, which had its effect on the language of science as well. Diametrically opposed trends have emerged in it. Originating from the human sciences, they have gradually found their way to engineering and fundamental sciences. It all started from pseudo-scientific and mock-scientific articles.

I already wrote about pseudo science and its attributes1 . The language of such publications and statements is infested with random scientific terms and concepts without clear understanding of their meaning. Their main task is to make the manuscript look presentably and sophomoric. The more obscure, the better.

Unfortunately, writing with consideration of the readers’ level of knowledge is ceasing to be a robust rule in scientific articles, too. I can see it in the manuscripts submitted to two respectful journals: the Journal of “Almaz – Antey” Air Defence Corporation and Innovations, in the editorial boards of which I have the honour to work. When reviewing them, I’m guided by the principle that if, as a person professionally involved in this sphere, I fail to understand the author’s intent behind the piles of words, then the manuscript is not suitable for publication.

It is probably keeping this fact in mind that the editorial office of Innovations sends me the most striking articles in terms of their academese. They do not pass for publication, therefore, to my deep regret, I cannot quote them directly; however, I cannot resist citing an example: in one of the manuscripts I reviewed, the words “innovation” and “innovative” were used 125 times, 5 of them included in the very first phrase. This case of language humiliation is exceptional – for now, as I am afraid it is very likely to become a routine practice.

People are forced to publish hollow articles due to numerous circumstances occurring in the market economy environment. First of all, it can be said about reports on the received grants – the reports cannot be accepted without publications. Grant proposals have to be written in imposing and abstruse manner to guarantee grant awarding. As a result, a new scientific writing style has been developed – “writing complicated texts about simple things”, “speaking intricately about nothing.”

New theoretical developments arrive, putting in doubt the expert way of writing conceptual documents. The book2 reads: “And still, the main effects of thinking in the middle of the new reality as concepts having broad and deep-routed consequences for our fellow citizens can only be achieved trough rigorous forms of their development.” Another phrase: “This subject distinguishes the activity creating specific quantitative and qualitative transformations in continuous education as a whole, related to changing its basic mechanisms to enhance its capability to fulfil its function under ever-changing conditions.” I have no complaints regarding the form, yet the content is rather hard to comprehend.

Such narrative style is becoming popular not only in would-be scientific circles; it is also widely used in various programme documents, when promising anything concrete and tangible is undesirable. This same style has also found its way in the reporting documentation. All this threatens not only with the degradation of the Russian language but also with “broad and deep-routed consequences for our fellow citizens.”

I implore the authors to be more responsible and careful about our language and urge the reviewers to be more demanding in terms of both semantic content of articles and their narrative style.

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. Journal of «Almaz – Antey» Air and Space Defence Corporation. 2016;(1):3-4.

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ISSN 2542-0542 (Print)