A Science Communication Intervention: Jargon

I am currently intervening in an undergraduate-level science course. Along with the basic science, students will learn how to communicate their ideas and perspectives effectively. Here’s what we are discussing this week: Jargon.

What is jargon?

Jargon refers to words or expressions that are specific to a discipline and may be difficult for “outsiders” to understand.

Why can using jargon be good?

  • Jargon is often more efficient and precise.
  • Using jargon demonstrates your knowledge of a topic and lends you credibility.
  • Readers like to learn new jargon.

Why can using jargon be bad?

  • Using jargon can intimidate a reader if they feel less intelligent or knowledgeable.
  • Using jargon just to sound smart often makes writing sound convoluted and hard to understand.
  • The reader can misinterpret the writing if they assign different meanings to jargon terms.



The skills-building communication curriculum will be facilitated to augment capacity scaffolding and utilize preexisting resources to engineer evidence-based practices.

[ bad jargon ]

Why is the jargon used in this sentence bad?

  • Too much jargon. Even if a reader knows each single word, the sentence becomes incomprehensible when so many jargon words are used together.
  • The jargon does not serve a purpose.
    1. The reader is not impressed. Rather, they may just be confused or intimidated.
    2. The reader does not learn. There are too many jargon words and not enough context clues for the reader to learn the meaning of a new jargon term.
    3. The sentence is not efficient or precise. The jargon words are just bigger and more complicated than non-jargon words.


This curriculum, which will strengthen students’ communication skills, was developed using evidence-based teaching strategies and is designed to easily integrate into existing science courses.

[ good jargon ]

Why is the jargon used in this sentence good?

  • This sentence has only one jargon phrase, so the reader won’ be overwhelmed or confused.
  • The writer demonstrates their knowledge of education theory by using a jargon phrase that is specific and commonly used in the field of education research.
  • The reader can learn. The rest of the sentence is easy to understand, so the reader can focus on this single jargon phrase and figure out its meaning using context clues and prior knowledge.



Practice using good jargon and avoiding bad jargon when you complete your homework this week. Things to consider:

  • Strategically use 2-3 jargon terms and/or phrases. Think of why you used them.
    • Do they serve a constructive purpose?
    • Would another word be just as effective but less confusing?
    • Have you used jargon to effectively demonstrate your knowledge of the topic?
    • Have you provided enough context clues to help your reader understand and to demonstrate that you fully understand the words you use?




Week 1 9/26 Overview and Motivation
Week 2 10/3 Sentence Structure
Week 3 10/10 Purpose and Paragraph Structure
Week 4 10/17 Word Choice
Week 5 10/24 Jargon
Week 6 10/31 Demonstration
Week 7 11/7 Audience and Framing
Week 8 11/14 Review

7 thoughts on “A Science Communication Intervention: Jargon”

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