Let ε < 0.


Glossary for research reports

Filed under: Academic humor, Science humor — Travis @

A. Terms used in writing research papers

It has long been known that
I haven’t bothered to look up the original reference

Of great theoretical and practical importance
Interesting to me

While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions
The experiments didn’t work out, but I figured I could at least get a publication out of it

The W-Pb system was chosen as especially suitable to show the predicted behavior
The fellow in the next lab had some already made up

High purity / very high purity / extremely high purity / super-purity / specroscopically pure
Composition unknown except for the exaggerated claims of the supplier

A fiducial reference line
A scratch

Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study
The results on the others didn’t make sense and were ignored

Accidentally strained during mounting
Dropped on the floor

Handled with extreme care throughout the experiments
Not dropped on the floor

Typical results are shown
The best results are shown

Although some detail has been lost in the reproduction, it is clear from the original micrograph that
It is impossible to tell from the micrograph that

Presumably at longer times
I didn’t take the time to find out

The agreement with the predicted curve is excellent




As good as could be expected

These results will be reported at a later date
I might possibly get around to this sometime

The most reliable values are those of Jones
Jones was a student of mine

It is suggested that / It is believed that / It may be that
I think

It is generally believed that
A couple of other guys think so too

It might be argued that
I have such a good answer to this objection that I shall now raise it

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding…
I don’t understand it

Unfortunately, a quantitative theory to account for these effects has not been formulated
Neither does anybody else

Correct within an order of magnitude

It is hoped that this work will stimulate further work in the field
This paper isn’t very good, but neither are any of the others in this miserable subject

Thanks are due to Joe Glotz for assistance with the experiments and to John Doe for valuable discussions
Joe Glotz did the work and John Does explained what it meant

B. Terms used in presenting research papers

A reference to work of an author whose work is to be attacked

A surprising finding
We barely had time to revise the abstract. Of course we fired the technician.

Preliminary experiments have shown that
We did it once but couldn’t repeat it

The method, in our hands
Somebody didn’t publish all the directions

A survey of the earlier literature
I even read through some of last year’s journals

Careful statistical analysis
After going through a dozen books, we finally found one obscure test that we could apply

We are excited by this finding
It looks publishable

We have a tentative explanation
I picked this up in a bull session last night

We didn’t carry out the long-term study
We like to go home by 5 pm. What do you think we are, slaves?

The mechanism is not clear
We plan to do a second experiment as soon as we get home

C. Terms used in discussing research presentations

We say this with trepidation
(a) We are going out on a limb when in the presence of an author whose work is to be, or has been, attacked, or
(b) We are about to make a statement about something we know nothing about

Could you discuss your findings?
Tell us know. Don’t hide it in some obscure journal.

Have you considered the possibility…?
Have you read my work?

Have you any ideas at all…?
What are you keeping from us?

Would you care to speculate…?
I wonder if you agree with me?

Why do you believe…?
You’re out of your mind

I would like to make one comment on these suggestions

We cannot reconcile the data
Are you telling the truth?

We have repeated your experiments in our lab
Brother, were we surprised!

Did I read your slide correctly?
Did you write it correctly? I never make mistakes.

D. Conclusion

It is evident that the field of scientific semantics offers ground for fruitful investigation (which means “I never expect to do it myself, but if someone does, this statement will give me a claim of priority”).

The material in Part A is from C. D. Graham, Jr., from Metal Progress, 71, 75 (1957). The material in Parts B and C is from David Kritchevsky and R. J. van der Wal, from Proceedings of the Chemical Society, May 1960, p. 173.

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