Evidence-based adviezen voor begrijpelijk schrijven, een utopie? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1573-9775
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1236



Organizations and writers striving to use plain language could benefit from evidence-based pieces of writing advice. At present, recommendations for producing comprehensible texts are often based on experience with the target group and/or common-sense logic, while previous effect studies have shown that applying such recommendations does not necessarily improve texts. In this paper we show the complexity of translating research results into evidence-based advice for comprehensible writing by discussing three dilemmas. First, we discuss the selection of a reliable evidence base, with a focus on the selection of measures that objectively reflect comprehension. Second, we discuss the generalizability of research results to types of texts, tasks, modalities, and readers other than the ones actually studied. Third, we address the complexity of turning conflicting results and subtle interaction effects into valid and nuanced but still comprehensible and applicable recommendations. We will argue that, due to its complexity, this ‘translation’ needs to be made by linguists instead of laymen.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): comprehensibility; evidence-based writing; readability; writing advice
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