Although ambiguity in written, oral, and visual communication is inevitably present across all human societies and cultures, variation among these societies and cultures occurs in the sociocultural causes of its existence. This study helps formulate a conceptual framework that enables the enrichment of
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Although ambiguity in written, oral, and visual communication is inevitably present across all human societies and cultures, variation among these societies and cultures occurs in the sociocultural causes of its existence. This study helps formulate a conceptual framework that enables the enrichment of knowledge about this variation. It takes a first step by highlighting Arab-specific reasons behind ambiguity in academic writings in humanities and social sciences. The investigation entails thematically analysing the thoughts of 905 Arabs in academia. The findings point to a ‘doing-the-minimum’ mentality, whereby one may act hastily and impatiently and do just enough for one’s manuscript to be published in any journal, thereby rushing into publication while skimping on quality and diminishing attention to manuscript clarity. Another finding is the ambition for rewards that Arab institutions assign to publication, whereby one may boost their publication records to reap these rewards, resulting in high quantity while sacrificing quality (e.g., clarity). Another reason discovered is the conceptualisation of writing as a formulaic and ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ task (templates to be completed and, thus, manuscripts to be constructed), instilling a focus on technicality instead of cognitive depth and clarity. An additional reason found is the passive application of foreign theories and conceptual frameworks without subjecting them to critical reflection, reapplying foreign surveys and mimicking survey-based articles, thereby making their articles culturally shallow, suffer from cultural irrelevance, and thus, ambiguity. This is along with the integration of poetry (wherein ambiguity is culturally viewed as desirable and showing poets to be sophisticated) into Arabs’ daily social and educational lives and mindsets, encouraging the acceptability of ambiguity as a possible linguistic quality in scholarly writing as well. The social context lacks direct, explicit, and free articulation, encouraging one to resort to roundabout ways of composing their manuscripts, thus, making the manuscripts fall into ambiguity.