Every season I note a new batch of trite, overused words cropping up in job and grant documents. I’ve already written about some of the most critical to banish from your vocabulary here, and here. Here is the newest set of words that need to go.
The first three are related to my post “adjectives are not arguments”. In my book, I elaborate on this issue: “The simple repetition of the words on this list, over and over in your documents, does not suggest that you have a coherent project, or make a compelling point, or advance an original argument. (…)They are white noise, and devoid of meaning.”
Innovative- If you have to say it, it ain’t so. Hardly anything in the academy is innovative, and if it is, then you should let your research speak for itself.
Rich- “Rich” is actually something that I call a “cheap” adjective. It doesn’t really tell us anything about your data, your project, your book, and it is incredibly vague. What exactly, is rich about the data? Unless you talk about money, don’t use this adjective.
Provocative-This often goes together with “innovative.” I know, I know, you’re a rebel. But, really, if you have or are getting a Ph.D., you’re as much of a rebel as Green Day are punk rock. And that’s ok- the one thing the academy is not looking for is rebels. They are looking for an intelligent colleague who will work with them.
On to nouns:
Thrust (in any lexical variation): see my previous post on “deep”. Just no.
Lacuna- it’s pretentious, and nothing else. Using lacuna doesn’t make you look smarter, it doesn’t make your research better. See my post on grad student grandiosity.
Lacuna Matata, Kelsky out.