Academia translated into plain English

As you know, I read a ton of scientific/medical/etc. studies on all sorts of topics, mostly related to myeloma, of course. And I am frequently puzzled by sentences that make no sense (to me). That is why I was very much amused yesterday when I found and read the following list of commonly utilized research phrases and their translation into plain English (see http://tinyurl.com/ydm5ll3 for more on this topic)…:

  • “It has long been known” . . . I didn’t look up the original reference.
  • “A definite trend is evident” . . . These data are practically meaningless.
  • “While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to the questions” . . . An unsuccessful experiment but I still hope to get it published.
  • “Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study” . . . The other results didn’t make any sense.
  • “Typical results are shown” . . . This is the prettiest graph.
  • “These results will be in a subsequent report” . . . I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded.
  • “In my experience” . . . Once.
  • “In case after case” . . . Twice.
  • “In a series of cases” . . . Thrice.
  • “It is believed that” . . . I think.
  • “It is generally believed that” . . . A couple of others think so, too.
  • “Correct within an order of magnitude” . . . Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
  • “According to statistical analysis” . . . Rumor has it.
  • “A statistically oriented projection of the significance of these findings” . . . A really wild guess.
  • “A careful analysis of obtainable data” . . . Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a beer glass.
  • “It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomenon occurs” . . . I don’t understand it, and I never will.
  • “After additional study by my colleagues” . . . They don’t understand it either.
  • “A highly significant area for exploratory study” . . . A totally useless topic selected by my committee.
  • “It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field” . . . I am pleased to feed you this B.S., and hope you will give me more funding.
  • 3 Comments

    1. Damn, I wish I’d had that list when I was in academia. I had to reinvent the wheel all by myself.
      (And it should not be forgotten that everything appears more serious when the passive voice is used.)

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