Baloney detection

January 17, 2013

Keir Thorpe tries to explain why administrators may resort to using jargon ("Another world's words", Opinion, 10 January). Jargon is used for two purposes: to aid communication of thought in fields with a body of knowledge by using terms from that body; and to hide the lack of thought in fields dominated by shifting opinion and fashion.

To discover which sort is being used, I suggest that we calculate average sentence length and the fraction of sentences that include a semicolon. In both cases, the larger the number, the more likely it is that the second form is being employed.

When determining sentence length, words such as "facilitate", "interplay" or "leverage" should be counted as five words.

Dave Kimber, St Neots, Cambridgeshire

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry