Journal article

Textual complexity of standard conditions used in the construction industry

14 Mar 2013
Description

Clearly written communication aids the understanding of construction contracts, resulting in less disputation. Past research, using opinion surveys rather than objective criteria, shows that construction contracts lack clarity and standard forms have become complex over time. The study outlined in this paper uses three objective measures of clarity developed by linguists to establish the readability of construction contracts. In addition, thirty industry professionals participated in a Cloze Test which measured the level of comprehension of clauses concerning disputes. The study verifies that contract conditions are very difficult to read, with college level reading skills needed to comprehend half of the clauses. However, the hypothesis that standard forms have become complex over time was not supported by the study. The study establishes a linear relationship between readability and comprehension, proving the hypothesis that improved readability increases the comprehension of a contract clause.

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2013
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