Narrative writing is more common in widely read journals, a new study finds.
Stories help us make sense of the world and are a valuable tool for remembering details. There’s just something (actually, many things) about narrative that makes it more compelling and memorable than, say, raw statistics.
That fact seems to extend to climate science too: According to a new study, research papers that favor narrative writing over more conventional exposition are more likely to appear in widely read journals and get cited by others.
“Evidence from psychology and literary theory suggests that audiences better understand and remember narrative writing in comparison with expository writing,” University of Washington scientists Ann Hillier, Ryan P. Kelly, and Terrie Klinger write in PLoS One. That statement extends to climate research: Narratives can, at least some of the time, engage the public and spur action. Despite that fact, storytelling is usually frowned upon in science, to the extent that some disciplines even discourage writing in the first person.
All of which makes Hillier, Kelly, and Klinger’s conclusion a little bit odd: Regardless of whatever scientists think are their…