Deciphering academic papers - 9 examples of academic gibberish - The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

Deciphering academic papers – 9 examples of academic gibberish


One of our claims is that we translate ‘academic’ into human. Only sometimes we can’t!

Not because of any lack of intellect on our behalf but due to the gibberish that emanates from the pens of academics around the world. I am often asked for examples so here are nine we have come across this year.

As we approach the silly season I thought I would share some of the rubbish we have to filter through to ensure our members get the good stuff.


This first one came from a paper published in an international business journal




Our second entrant this year is this interesting nonsense


The myth-symbol

This third entry reads more like it was a meth-symbol



They are not kidding!


The ruse of desire

The ruse of English articulation…


Errant paternal phallus

A cock-up in other words


Imaginary totality

We wish.

Imaginary totallity

Rapt, mindless fascination

Yup, we know that feeling.

Rapt mindless facination


Only not as we know it.


So as you read our blogs, the Research Briefings and The Oxford Review this season, spare a thought for those of us tasked with turning academic in human – it often requires a super-human effort.

Best wishes

Davids Signature




P.S. if you would like research briefings in human sign up here:

Be impressively well-informed

Get your FREE organizational and people development research briefings, infographics, video research briefings, a free copy of The Oxford Review and more...

Powered by ConvertKit

Be impressively well informed

Get the very latest research intelligence briefings, video research briefings, infographics and more sent direct to you as they are published

Be the most impressively well-informed and up-to-date person around...

Powered by ConvertKit
Like what you see? Help us spread the word

David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page

  • Haha Brilliant! Thanks John.
    I must try that formula on my students.


  • john sheley says:

    When I was studying chemistry I was force fed “molecular orbital theory”. The only part of that tutelage that I remember is:

    PA = ————

    PI = 3.1415926536
    PE = Professors enthusiasm for the presented lecture material
    PA = Practical application of presented lecture material

    So as the professor’s enthusiasm increases the practical application tends towards zero.

  • >