According to the LTER’s Guidelines for LTER Information Management Systems, “Information Management System architecture, procedures, and protocols should be clearly documented”. So in this spirit, I’ve posted some information about this website (as it was when I wrote this).
Essentially, this website compromises between feature/code heavy options (drupal, bootstrap) and user-friendly, but proprietary, options (Wix, Squarespace). It uses WordPress with the make theme. Additionally, the Make Builder plugin adds additional formatting options to pages. A Zotero database manages citations and displays them on the site using a plugin. Axiom will supply access to our LTER data, so the technical requirements at this end should be light. Instead, the website should introduce our project and direct interested readers to more complete information.
As part of the LTER community, we are trying to make a web page that is accessible to the wider community, as well as useful to our LTER team. To accomplish this, I’m adjusting the language used on this website from what I’ve used in the past. To improve the clarity of my writing, I’ve relied on three helpful resources:
- The Yoast WordPress plugin: Primarily, this plugin helps Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but readability is an important factor of that. As I write, the plugin judges me. It assigns a Flesch reading ease score and counts the number of transition words used, among other things. The technical aspect of our work limits the text’s ultimate simplicity. However, Yoast constantly reminds me that the website is not a scientific journal.
- Writing Science in Plain English: This short book taught me that making readable scientific text does not depend only on reduction of jargon. Clarity also depends on the structure of sentences and paragraphs. As a result, I now continually try to reduce the number of abstract nouns I use, and to increase the number of active verbs. It’s fun – like a puzzle.
- The American Geophysical Society’s Sharing Science materials: In January 2018, I attended a scientific communication workshop that was hosted by the Alaska Marine Science Symposium. The focus was storytelling, and on how identifying the intended audience changes the language that should be used.
Hopefully, these changes will make information more accessible. We want other people to discover our research and to be interested in it.