The language of science

Some common phrases in scientific papers and what they really mean (here’s the link, via Ed Yong):

“It can be shown”

Somebody said they did this, but I can’t duplicate their results. I can’t even find the reference, or else I would have cited that instead. [In economics, this phrase has a lot of different meanings, depending on who the writer or lecturer is. Usually I translate that sentence simply by adding an apostrophe and a t – US]

“Of great theoretical and practical importance”

Means it is interesting to me or else I want it to be interesting to somebody with money so they will fund my research.

“The most reliable results are those obtained by Smith.”

Smith is or was my graduate research assistant.

“It is believed that…”

I think this (and either no one agrees with me or else I didn’t consult anyone).

“It is generally believed that”

I think this and at least one other person agrees with me.

“Additional work will be required to elucidate the mechanism”

I don’t have a clue what is going on and I’m not going to be the one to figure it out.


November 25, 2010 Posted by | Science | Leave a comment