August 02, 2011
An Academic Author's Unintentional Masterpiece
Posted by David Zaring

is the title of Geoff Dyer's winceworthy takedown of the professorial incliation to write "My goal here is to...."  It's a must read.  And it illustrates a huge problem.  How big?  Well, in the legal academy, here's a little context, via a single author case study:

  • "Summarizing the doctrine of judicial review in administrative law is no easy task, and in this Article, I argue that it distracts courts, scholars, and agencies from what they really do." (that's the first sentence).
  • "I will consider what the financial crisis has told us so far about our international governance institutions and the ways that they have succeeded and the ways they've come up wanting."  (first sentence again, but it's a talk, in the author's defense).
  • "In the Conclusion to this Article, I will eventually argue that a blend of congressional supervision, together with self-regulation by agencies, offers a reasonable, if not perfect, approach to the use of best practices. Here, I describe the forms that such supervision currently takes." (in the introduction).
  • "In this Article, I argue that the traditional account does not apply to some of the most important cases that the federal courts handle." (it leads the second paragraph).

Yikes.  And that's four examples from just one author!  Who must surely hope to change his prose style in the future lest he too fall victim to the cutting observations of Geoff Dyer.

Administrative Law, Legal Scholarship | Bookmark

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