What medical researchers mean when they say ____

Just because a scientific paper sounds authoritative, it doesn’t mean we should always take what’s published in journals as gospel. For example, here’s what scientists might really mean when they pontificate:

“It has long been known” . . . [I didn’t look up the original reference]

“A definite trend is evident” . . . [These data are practically meaningless]

“Of great theoretical and practical importance” . . . [Interesting to me]  

“While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions” . . . [An unsuccessful experiment but I still have to get it published]

“Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study” . . . [The results of the others didn’t make any sense]

“Typical results are shown” . . . [The best results are shown]

“These results will be shown in a subsequent report” . . . [I might get around to this sometime if I’m pushed]

“The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones” . . . [He was my graduate assistant]

“It is believed that” . . . [I think]

“It is generally believed that” . . . [A couple of other guys think so, too]

“It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding occurs” . . . [I don’t understand it]

“Correct within an order of magnitude” . . . [Wrong]

“It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigations in this field” . . . [This is a lousy paper, but so are all the others on this miserable topic.]

“Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experiment and to George Frink for valuable assistance” . . . [Blotz did the work and Frink explained to me what it meant]

“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 phenomenon occurs” [I don’t understand it]

“After additional study by my colleagues” [ They don’t understand it either]

“It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field” [I quit!]

Source – “Eureka: A book of scientific anecdotes” by Adrian Berry  (with thanks to loyal Ethical Nag reader Cave76 for the hat tip)

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9 thoughts on “What medical researchers mean when they say ____

  1. This sounds a little bit old fashioned. Authors are more cynical nowadays. They tend to blatantly lie, conclude their study shows this or that (when actually it doesn’t ) etc.

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  2. I’ve just completed a subject called critical research skills and wonder if my lecturer would have appreciated it if I used this interpretation… very funny!

    Like

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