Research Definitions* (or "How to critique an article.")
The following phrases, frequently found in technical writings, are defined below for your enlightenment.
PHRASE: "it has long been known..."
DEFINITION: I haven't bothered to look up the original reference.
PHRASE: "Of great theoretical and practical importance..."
DEFINITION: Interesting to me.
PHRASE: "While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions..."
DEFINITION: The experiment didn't work out, but I wanted to publish anyway.
PHRASE: "Extremely high purity"
DEFINITION: Composition unknown except for the exaggerated claims of the supplier.
PHRASE: "Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study."
DEFINITION: The results on the others didn't make sense and were ignored.
PHRASE: "Accidentally stained during mounting"
DEFINITION: Accidentally dropped on the floor.
PHRASE: "Handled with extreme care during the experiments"
DEFINITION: Not dropped on the floor.
PHRASE: "A fiducial reference line on the specimen"
DEFINITION: A scratch.
PHRASE: "Although some detail have been lost in reproduction, it is clear from the original micrograph that..."
DEFINITION: It is impossible to tell from the original micrograph.
PHRASE: "Typical results are shown"
DEFINITION: The best results are shown.
PHRASE: "The most reliable data are those Jones..."
DEFINITION: Jones was a student of mine.
PHRASE: "Agreement with the predicted curve is excellent."
PHRASE: "Correct within an order of magnitude DEFINITION: Wrong.
PHRASE: "It is believed that..."
DEFINITION: I think...
PHRASE: "It is generally believed that...
DEFINITION: A couple of other guys think so too.
PHRASE: "It might be argued that..."
DEFINITION: I have such a good answer for this objection that I shall now raise it.
PHRASE: "It is clear that much additional work will be required for a complete understanding of..."
DEFINITION: I didn't understand it.
PHRASE: "Thanks to Joe Glotz for assistance with the experiment, and to John Doe for valuable discussions."
DEFINITION: Glotz did the work, and Doe explained what it meant to me.
* Adapted from 'A glossary for research reports, by C. D. Graham, Jr., Metal Progress, Vol. 71, No. 5, May. 1957.