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Bad Writing: Some Thoughts on the Abuse of Scholarly Rhetoric

17 Pages Posted: 28 May 2005  

Jethro K. Lieberman

New York Law School


Like most kinds of writing, academic writing rarely shines, but far more often than ordinary writing scholarly prose is murky and impenetrable. This brief jeu d'esprit considers several forms of bad writing, rejecting the claim, increasingly made in academic quarters, that "difficult writing" is necessary to the scholarly enterprise. Bloated, foggy, and enigmatic prose masquerades as profundity that escapes conventional mental grooves. In fact it is useless, unethical, and taken far enough, evil.

Keywords: academic writing, scholarly writing, bad writing, writing problem, scholarship,composition, clarity, ethics, prose, rhetoric, style, obscurity, Orwell, Dewey

Suggested Citation

Lieberman, Jethro K., Bad Writing: Some Thoughts on the Abuse of Scholarly Rhetoric. New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 49, pp. 649-664, 2004-2005. Available at SSRN:

Jethro K. Lieberman (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States


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