Whether speaking to someone one on one or giving a presentation to an entire room, it’s easy to show your excitement for a topic. Your voice might get faster or you gesture with your hands or your eyes light up with enthusiasm. This passion for your research subject can jump directly to your audience without you even being aware of it and you can take them along with you on your journey of discovery.
Writing is a bit different. Passion can become muted and disappear entirely behind a generous smattering of acronyms, scientific jargon, and convoluted sentences. Language that should be forming a bridge between you and your audience turns into a wall of impenetrable text.
Yet many academics get into research because they have an insatiable curiosity. They want to know how things work, why things are the way they are, and how to make things better. Don’t be afraid to let your writing be authentic … or human.
Showing enthusiasm does not mean liberally sprinkling your writing with exclamation marks, but rather encouraging the reader to care about why this project was carried out or a particular topic should be investigated. Depending on the platform—conference proceeding, grant proposal, essay, blog post—consider how you can hook the reader. Would challenging their assumptions work, or introducing a question that makes them want to read further to know the answer? A willingness to look beyond the conventional, coupled with your high-quality research, can help both promote your work and benefit the audience.
I tend to view all writing as storytelling. It doesn’t matter if it begins with “Once upon a time …” or explains the latest developments in navigational techniques; stories have a spark to keep people reading and wanting to find out more. Why shouldn’t academic writing capture this as well?