Readability and the Writer’s Diet

I read this abstract, laughed a bit, then entered it into The Writers Diet. Try it.

I wish science abstracts, especially those dealing with human impact, and climate change is a huge human impact, were written with specific emphasis on readability and the big picture.

I will read the paper, as well, sounds interesting. The title is “The Optimal Carbon Tax and Economic Growth” – Exciting! But I could not let the abstract go unshared.

In a calibrated integrated assessment model we investigate the differential impact of additive and multiplicative damages from climate change for both a socially optimal and a business-as-usual scenario in the market economy within the context of a Ramsey model of economic growth. The sources of energy are fossil fuel which is available at a cost which rises as reserves diminish and a carbon-free backstop supplied at a decreasing cost. If damages are not proportional to aggregate production output, and the economy is along a development path, the social cost of carbon and the optimal carbon tax are smaller as damages can more easily be compensated for by higher output. As a result, the economy switches later from fossil fuel to the carbon-free backstop and leaves less fossil fuel in situ. This is in contrast to a partial equilibrium analysis with damages in utility rather than in production which finds that the willingness to forsake current consumption to avoid future global warming is higher lower under additive damages in a growing economy if the elasticity of intertemporal substitution is smaller bigger than one.

via OxCarre: The Optimal Carbon Tax and Economic Growth.

Update: Now, to type in some of my paper abstracts into Writer’s Diet and see what happens. I plopped in three abstracts from papers I published for my PhD, you guessed it, all FLABBY!

Helen Sword, the originator of this test has a couple of books on writing that are worth checking out, especially the one called “Stylish Academic Writing”

Update: Via Boing Boing, an article at the Huff Po on how to read abstracts.

3 comments for “Readability and the Writer’s Diet

  1. September 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Maybe a good abstract should be flabby. After all keywords and searchability are both virtues of abstracts.

    I’m loving your new blogging method.

    • oliveridley
      September 28, 2012 at 11:43 am

      Thanks! Journals have been asking for keywords and tags separately for years. The “abstract” is left over from print days when it needed to fit into a particular space. I would like a standard format readable abstract, mostly because in closed access $$ journals, it is the only visible part of the article.