Measuring Mumbo-Jumbo: A Preliminary Quantification of the Use of Jargon in Science Communication

Measuring Mumbo-Jumbo: A Preliminary Quantification of the Use of Jargon in Science Communication

  • Version 1.0.0
  • Download 1
  • File Size 373.34 KB
  • File Count 1
  • Create Date August 2, 2018
  • Last Updated August 2, 2018

Measuring Mumbo-Jumbo: A Preliminary Quantification of the Use of Jargon in Science Communication

Science communication training programs, increasingly found worldwide, aim to teach scientists skills for communicating about science with the public effectively. These include discussing science with less professional jargon. However, little attention has been paid to developing assessment methods for the outcomes of such programs, or for assessing the use of jargon.Here we propose a novel approach to assessing scientific jargon in spoken English texts, using software and corpora (collections of texts) all freely available online. We compare the use of scientific jargon in existing science communication with its use among scientists. This study aims to develop a standardized ",jargon index",, which may be useful in formative or summative assessment.Analyzed transcripts included academic speech and scientific TEDTalks. Within each transcript, words were annotated based on usage in (1) a scientific English corpus, and in (2) a general English corpus. Words appearing either only, or significantly more frequently, in the scientific corpus, were categorized as scientific jargon. These were also assigned ",jargonness", scores, which reflect their obscurity.Findings suggest that scientists use less jargon in communication with a general audience than with peers, but not always less obscure jargon. These findings may lay the groundwork for (self-)evaluating jargon through technology.Keywords: Jargon, media training, scientists’, understanding of the public

Attached Files

FileAction
paper_5b929ee0.pdfDownload 
Menu
X