I’ve been reading Steven Pinker’s 2014 book “The Sense of Style” and was particularly struck by the following passage.
Could you recognize a ‘level’ or a ‘perspective’ if you met one on the street? Could you point it out to someone else? What about an approach, an assumption, a concept, a condition, a context, a framework, an issue, a model, a process, a range, a role, a strategy, a tendency, or a variable? These are metaconcepts: concepts about concepts. They serve as a kind of packing material in which academics, bureaucrats, and corporate mouthpieces clad their subject matter. Only when the packaging is hacked away does the subject come into view. The phrase on the aspirational level adds nothing to aspire, nor is a prejudice reduction model any more sophisticated than reducing prejudice. (p. 49)
A lot of grant-writing books advise against jargon. I would argue that metaconcepts are also worth a second look. Pick up a recent article, book chapter or other piece of writing. How often do you use metaconcepts? How many of these metaconcepts could be eliminated or replaced without changing the meaning of the text?