I started my doctoral dissertation five years ago. I’m examining how to improve the usability of public-sector writing, an issue important for democracy and inclusion.
One reason I started this research is because I wanted to find better tools and evidence-based techniques to use in communication courses for the public sector. I also wanted to find out why efforts to make official text easier for the public have not yet delivered much success, despite good will and constant efforts to train people. Given my professional experience, I already had thoughts about these problems when I began, but during this study, my ideas have become more focused. Solutions must now originate with the top of the hierarchy, mainly by reassessing and revising official language practice and policy.
Writing the research has been an expanding experience. When researching and popularizing difficult texts for work, I don’t want to stumble over academic jargon. Inevitably, though, a dissertation requires special terminology, numerous references, and a detailed description of the research process. My writing risks becoming so tautological and tedious that even I won’t want to read it.
Once the dissertation has been reviewed and, hopefully, approved, I will publish a plain language summary of it online. With luck, you’ll find it clear enough that you understand the public-sector communication principles that I advocate.