Author Topic: Generalization  (Read 2078 times)


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« on: January 25, 2014, 08:51:46 AM »
Generalization is an extension of a concept to a less-specific criteria. Writers often use generalization if they cannot come up with specifics or be clear. In fact, generalization diminishes the value of academic writing and undermines the authority of the writer, causing the readers to feel the ground on which they are treading is a bit shaky. Formal writing requires specificity and well-supported information. Generalization leads to inaccuracy in statements, which is a serious flaw in a formal text.

Use of the words always, all, every, everyone, many, never, nobody, none can create inaccurate statements, and even factual errors. It leaves the reader disbelieving the writer. These inaccuracies could produce false statements about people, places or things. (e.g. “Marketing will solve the problem for an organization.” - that does not tell the reader anything about the solution - be more specific about your statements.)

Avoiding generalization is easy:

1. Be specific. After reading a piece, the reader should know exactly what the author was conveying. Avoid being ambiguous. If you are a non-native English speaker, try reading out loud what you have written and translate it for yourself. Have you written something reasonable? something you yourself would have easily understood?

2. Use facts, data, statistics, and other research. Instead of writing all, always or never about a subject, do the real research. Find out how many!.

3. Use and attribute quotes. Use and attribute quotes by other authoritative sources to make your points. Being specific means that you should not simply state a fact; you need to prove this fact. Formal writing requires you to quote and reference.

4. Quantify, don't qualify. Use real quantities and numbers, rather than qualifiers. But if you do qualify, select the qualifier carefully. Some is better than all or none.

6. Try not to overstate a situation. Exaggeration causes unintended bias.

7. Break down the topic. The best way to avoid generalizations is to break down a broad topic into smaller topics. This will force the writer to get specific.