What They Really Mean To Say

Posted by M ws On Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2 comments
In journals or term papers, we may come across certain phrases or expressions which sound impressive but may mean something else. Here are some examples which might help you understand the mysterious language of science and medicine.

These special phrases are also applicable to anyone reading a PhD dissertation or academic paper.


  • "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.
  • "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 iced tea.
  • "It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomenon 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 Cindy Adams for valuable discussions" ... Mr. Blotz did the work and Ms. Adams 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.
-Author Unknown ..Collected from here and there-

2 comments to What They Really Mean To Say

  1. says:

    proud2bmalaysian In our Malaysian context, a dirty dozen:

    1. "vote in my candidate and you will have RM2m on Monday"...I don't think we will win but since you are greedy, we have a shot!

    2. "this is not bribing. It is done all the time during elections"...if we are doing it, then it's OK. If you do it, it's bribery

    3. "we have investigated and there is no signs of corruption"...we were told to look the other way

    4. "he did it to me. There was his semen in my anus"...nobody will know whose sample anyways but since we said it is his, then it is

    5. "that party is outlawed"...since we can't fight them, we make them illegal

    6. "we didn't fire any tear gas into the hospital"...we just might have but it is not politically right to admit guilt at this time

    7. "RPK can always come back and fight it in court"...if he survives another ISA jail term

    8. "we will always be fair"...if it is good for us, we will

    9. "have faith in the transformation"...yes, we need you to have blind faith even when we know it won't work. Give it time and all will be well. Lots of time!

    10. "we are the best package in the world"...we better be after spending millions in PR

    11. "we are very tolerant already"...take note who dissent and lock them up

    12. "who says the NFC is in a mess"...since we are involved, it must be a success (even if I haven't seen it or read the AG report)

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear proud2bMalaysian

    My deepest apologies for this late response!

    Thank you so much for such a superb comment that really reminds us of the pathetic state of affairs.

    It bewilders me to see how far they can and will stretch the 'truth' just so they can achieve their objectives!

    Take care and please keep in touch!

    Have a great day!

    Best wishes

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