Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In this blog post, I will explore [blah]

I've been reading many many many scholarly articles lately--possibly too many. I am starting to get annoyed. I am annoyed by the article that uses "then" when it ought to use "than," the one that spells the name of the author under discussion incorrectly, and the one that provides consistently incomplete or incorrect citations for most of its sources, but nothing annoys me more than the "All About Me" article. It starts like this:

"[Unnecessarily complicated jargon] is an appropriate term for the subject of this paper, which discusses the relationship between [blah] and [blather]."

Now on its own, this is not terribly annoying; I am aware that some scholars find the "This paper will discuss" format entirely acceptable. But in this case, the long introductory parargraph goes on to lay out its intentions thus: "I am interested in [blah]....I want to discuss [more blah]....I want to explore [blah blah blah]....I shall be exploring [blah]....I am interested in [another pile of blah]....I explore [piled higher and deeper]....The main focus of this paper will be [the ultimate blah]."

And that's just the first paragraph.

When more than half of the sentences in an analytical essay begin with the vertical pronoun, I want to take the author by the shoulder and say, "You know, it's really not all about you. What you want, what you intend, what you are interested in--well, it just doesn't interest me all that much, so get out of the way and let the ideas come through, okay? Otherwise, I'll just get annoyed."

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