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Simplifying Academic Knowledge: Opportunities, Benefits and Barriers

12 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2015  

Michael Wood

University of Portsmouth Business School

Date Written: November 5, 2015


Much academic knowledge is unnecessarily complicated and could be simplified, and made easier to learn, understand and use, without sacrificing its power and usefulness. Roman numerals have now been replaced by the decimal system which is far more convenient for large and small numbers and calculations, and the metric system means that children no longer have to learn about stones, pounds and ounces, pounds, shillings and pence, and so on. At the other end of the scale, Newton, Einstein and Darwin came up with beautifully simple concepts which helped us make sense of the complexities of the world around us. This article explores the possibility of further simplifying the knowledge that academics create and disseminate, giving examples from various fields but especially the mathematical sciences. The benefits, in terms of savings of time and enhancement of the power and accessibility of academic knowledge, are potentially enormous.

Keywords: Academic knowledge, Public understanding of science, Simplicity, Simplifying knowledge, User-friendly mathematics

Suggested Citation

Wood, Michael, Simplifying Academic Knowledge: Opportunities, Benefits and Barriers (November 5, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Michael Wood (Contact Author)

University of Portsmouth Business School ( email )

United Kingdom

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