A Guide to The Terminology of Scientific Papers

In each couplet, the first is the phrase as it appears in the scientific literature; the second is the translation as to what it really means:

Scientific Language Plain English
It has long been known that... I haven't bothered to look up the original reference.
It is believed that...
I think...
It is generally believed that...
A couple of other guys think so, too.
It is not unreasonable to assume...
If you don't believe this, you might as well stop reading here.
A preliminary examination revealed...
One of my grad students pointed this out to me.
Four samples were chosen for further study.
The others didn't make sense, so we ignored them.
Results from the third sample may be of somewhat lower confidence...
I dropped it on the floor.
...but are consistent with the data obtained from the other samples.
...but scooped up most of it.
Handled with extreme care during the entire procedure...
NOT dropped on the floor...
Typical results are shown.
The best results are shown.
Correct within an order of magnitude...
Mostly wrong.
Not inconsistent with other determinations, given our current limited understanding of this field...
Meaningless.
The significance of these results is unclear.
Look at the pretty artifact.
It might be argued that...the significance of these results is unclear.
Look at the pretty artifact.
It might be argued that...
I have such a devastating rebuttal to this argument that I shall now deliberately raise it.
We are unable to reconcile our results with those of Hackenbush, but...
Here comes some richly deserved character assassination.

While it has not been possible to provide definitive answers to these questions...

The experiment didn't prove anything, but at least I can publish the data somewhere.
Much additional work will be required.
The paper isn't very good, but neither is anyone else's.
Of great theoretical importance...
I got a paper out of it.
Of great practical importance as well...
I got a grant out of it, too.
These investigations proved highly rewarding...
My grant is going to be renewed.
Thanks are due to Joe Blow for laboratory assistance and to Jane Doe for many valuable discussions...
Joe did all the work, and Jane explained it to me.

Reference

 

Scientific Language Plain English
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 CHOOSEN 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.
THE MOST RELIABLE RESULTS ARE OBTAINED BY JONES
He was my graduate student; his grade depended on this.
IN MY EXPERINCE
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 other guys think so too.
CORRECT WITHIN AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE
Wrong.
ACCORDING TO STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
Rumor has it.

A STATISTICALLY ORIENTED PROJECTION OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE FINDINGS

A wild guess.
A CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF OBTAINABLE DATA
Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.
IT IS CLEAR THAT MUCH ADDITIONAL WORK WILL BE REQUIRED BEFORE A COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF THIS
PHENOMENA OCCURS
I don't understand it.
AFTER ADDITIONAL STUDY BY MY COLLEAGUES
They don't understand it either.
THANKS ARE DUE TO JOE BLOTZ FOR ASSISTANCE WITH THE EXPERIMENT AND TO ANDREA SCHAEFFER FOR
VALUABLE DISCUSSIONS
Mr. Blotz did the work and Ms. Shaeffer explained to me what it meant.
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 quit.

Reference:

Statement
Really means
It has long been known... I haven't bothered to look up the reference.
It is thought that... I think so.
It is generally thought that... A couple of other people think so, too.
It is not unreasonable to assume... If you believe this, you'll believe anything.
Of great theoretical importance...
I find it interesting.
Of great practical importance...
I can get some good mileage out of it.
Typical results are shown. The best results are shown.
Three samples were chosen for further study. The others didn't make sense, so we ignored them.
The second sample was not used. I dropped it on the floor.
Results obtained with the second sample must be interpreted with caution. I dropped it on the floor but managed to scoop most of it up.
Correct within an order of magnitude.
Incorrect.
Much additional work will be required.
This paper isn't very good, but neither is anyone else's.
These investigations yielded highly rewarding results.
My grant will be renewed.
This research was supported by a grant from... I wonder if the taxpayers know they're paying for this?
A line of best fit was drawn using least-squares regression.
I drew it by hand.
A non-linear relationship was found.
I drew it by hand and I didn't use a ruler.
Stringent controls were implemented.
My advisor was watching.
I thank X for assistance with the experiments and Y for useful discussions on the interpretation of the data.
X did the experiment and Y explained it to me.

Reference:

Others: