Monday, August 22, 2005

Academic phrases and meanings 

One of my students sent this variation of an old chestnut. These used to be passed around by mimeos in the old days; my copy on my office wall came to me twenty years ago when I started at SCSU. I haven't seen one for a couple of years, and offer it as a service to new academics:

"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 wild guess.

"A careful analysis of obtainable data"... Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of pop.

"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.