As undergrads we’re exposed to a wide range of sources of information. Be it journals, books, news reports or topical magazines, this vast array of scientific knowledge comes at us from left, right and centre!
The trick from the author’s point of view is homing in on the right language style to fit their purpose.
If it’s an article fit for a scientific journal then technical, formal language is essential. As they need to get across in-depth and complex ideas, writers’ language needs to reflect their content so a sophisticated (but not overwhelming) style needs to be adopted.
At the other end of the spectrum, the general media needs to adjust their writing so that a wider, non-specialist audience can be reached. This inevitably means the language is much more informal and relatable, with more contractions (it’s) and second person pronouns (you) to engage the reader.
Writing style, however, should be just a formality. It shouldn’t take precedent over the central idea of the piece; the reader won’t be thinking how hard the writer worked to make their piece clear, they will – they should – be too engrossed in the piece itself that the intricacies of language won’t even be considered.
As author Bill Bryson so beautifully put it, “Science is fundamentally amazing”. Interesting and exciting scientific topics should shine through and appeal to any reader, a concept which may ultimately be lost if the writer gets bogged down in language choices.
It’s just a case of getting the reader hooked!