Saturday blast from the past: Can you describe your research using only the 1000 most common English words? And should you even try?

Hoisted from the archives: Meghan’s old post on “Up Goer Five”. Up Goer Five is an invention of xkcd creator Randall Munroe. It’s a challenge to describe something complicated–such as some bit of scientific research–using only the most common 1000 words in English. “Up Goer” is how Munroe referred to a rocket, because “rocket” isn’t among the 1000 most common English words. Anyway, Meghan’s post recommended the Up Goer Five challenge as a good and fun way to learn to de-jargonize your scientific communication. Which led to a very long and excellent comment thread, because lots of folks–including me, but also some professional science writers–argued that the Up Goer Five exercise might be fun, but that it wasn’t useful as communication training. Up Goer Five is no longer trendy, as far as I know. But the issues raised in that post and subsequent comment thread are timeless, so have a look!

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