Writing Tip: Audience

In a continuing career advice series in Inside Higher Ed, Mary W. Walters reminds us:

In writing, it is easy to overlook the principles we are able to put to use so effectively in our daily lives. When we are developing a funding application — or working on a journal article or a textbook chapter for that matter — our audiences can seem invisible to us. We may become so involved in explaining what detailed convolutions brought us to our current research crossroads that we fail to take our prospective readers into consideration. What do they already know about this subject? What is it possible that they do not know? How can we make the information we are trying to convey more useful — and relevant, and interesting — to them?

As most of us know (from reading other people’s writing), scholars who ignore their readers are at risk of using language that no one outside their research niche can understand.

Walters is the author of Write an Effective Funding Application: A Guide for Researchers and Scholars (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

The article, “Know Your Audience,” is available on line in this open access publication.


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