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The Importance of Clear Writing

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There's good news — from my selfish standpoint, at any rate. (And it is all about me.) First, like Mahan, Naval War College students tend to be a self-critical lot, receptive to help with details. And second, our students face no pressure to write only for scholars. Quite the opposite. Plainspoken language is at a premium when working for senior commanders or diplomats, as our graduates will in future assignments. By contrast, civilian universities actively discourage publishing in outlets where specialists converse with laymen about arcane matters.

Op-eds, professional journal articles, and — needless to say — blog entries like this one count for next to nothing in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions. Indeed, non-scholarly writing probably counts for less than nothing in the academy. It carries steep opportunity costs. An hour spent writing for a newspaper, practically minded journal, or commercial press is an hour not spent writing for a university press or peer-reviewed journal — an outlet where academics are the gatekeepers.

It's a really good point about why more interesting content isn't finding its way to The Web.

Opportunity cost.

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