Codeswitching, Academic Publishing, and A Complicated Debate on Research Accessibility

Hannah Spadafora
14 min readMay 31, 2021

There is an intense debate within the academy as to whether professional scholars should make their work more accessible to public audiences — a realization that all the knowledge in the world doesn’t bring change if researchers only talk to each other. Fitting the theme of the argument that academic writing needs to be broken down and made more accessible for popular audiences, this multiple perspectives debate feature is presented here with an additional follow up after each viewpoint ‘code-switched’ into down to earth, profanity-filled, acronym-using recounts of the same arguments. With a fair warning for the cursing here: Drunk History, I challenge you, and raise you a count of profane practical philosophy.

A. Knowledge generated in university halls is not always successfully disseminated in public discourse. When discussions are present, they are often diluted by non-academics, and sometimes skewered by such. Academic articles featured in graduate school classrooms, research journals, and professor conferences, however, can be obscure, opaque, and unreadable. Interpreting journal articles thus can be an arduous task; the jargon utilized renders it inaccessible to popular audiences, significantly decreasing the statistical probability of successful information transmission. Similar to institutional review board proposals, journal articles should adhere to the principle of being composed for an audience at the 8th grade reading comprehension level equivalency. This increases accessibility incrementally, thus ensuring an increase in informed populations, educated on scientific findings, academic research, and a wide array of knowledge subjects.

A. Code-switched: Lessons in the classroom often stay in the classroom. When it does reach the ears of the public, non-specialists often fuck it up. Classroom readings and journal articles often sail above the heads of anyone not invited to the special club of knowing wtf all the special terms mean–or that some words mean completely different things in the real world than they do in the ivory tower, only-available-via-university-library-sites written experts’ work. We need academic articles to both not be written like shit, and to not talk above people’s heads — how do we expect to have an educated populace if…

Hannah Spadafora

Hannah Spadafora is a writer living in the Atlanta area with multiple cats and underused degrees in anthropology, philosophy, and religious studies.