Reviewing The Strain Index

By Nirmaldasan


I created in 2005 the strain index, a readability formula that grades texts on a scale of 1 to 17+ years of schooling. I first wrote a short article about it and later, on the readability expert William DuBay’s advice, tested the formula on graded passages. In 2007, I received M.Phil from the Madurai Kamaraj University for my research (under the guidance of Dr. Nirmal Selvamony) titled ‘A Quantitative Analysis of Media Language’ in which I had demonstrated the validity and the application of the strain index. Subsequently, I created this weblog Readability Monitor to promote the formula.

Ten years later, in October 2017, Lambert Academic Publishing published my dissertation. So it is time to review the strain index. I do not know how many people use the formula. I have done my best to promote the strain index not only in my writings but also in my classes. I wrote ‘The Strain Index: A New Readability Formula’ for Journalism Online, and The Hoot accepted my humble request to reproduce the article on its website. I later wrote ‘Longer The Sentence, Greater The Strain’ for Vidura, a journal of the Press Institute of India. These and other articles about the strain index are all available in this weblog Readability Monitor.

So how do I persuade people to buy my book? The blurb says: “A Quantitative Analysis Of Media Language offers an alternative readability formula called Strain Index to the most popular Fog Index of Robert Gunning. Both the formulas were compared by testing them on graded English textbooks. The Strain Index enjoys a very high correlation of 0.97 with the Fog Index. The advantage of the Strain Index is that it uses only one variable instead of two employed by the Fog Index. The readability expert William DuBay called the Strain Index remarkably simple.”

For those who just want to know what the formula is and how to use it, there is obviously no need to buy. But those who are into readability research – big names like Stylewriter and Lexile – may have the insatiable curiosity to find out what I have done with my formula and what the formula does. University libraries may also find my book a welcome addition. I would especially request scholars who have substantial research funds to buy this little book of mine and make me richer by a few Euros.


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