Data and language for research – day 3: word building

Data and language for research – day 3: word building

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In this article, we will look at some commonly used words in academic articles and explore how they change according to word type. Pay attention to any changes in pronunciation in order to improve accuracy when using these words in spoken English.

Commonly used verbs

To assume (meaning: to think that something is true even though you have limited or no evidence)

  • Pronunciation: there is an intrusive /j/ sound in this word after the /s/ – /əˈsjuːm/

It is generally assumed that a lack of social interaction can lead to poor communicative skills.

Noun form Other forms
an assumption

·        This noun is often used with these verbs: to make, challenge, examine, question, contradict, reject

·        This noun often collocates with these adjectives: incorrect, false, erroneous, reasonable, implicit, unspoken

It is important to challenge our own assumptions on the matter as they may be incorrect.

assuming (that)

·        often used as a conjunction to emphasise the something might not me true.

Assuming that the trial goes ahead, we hope to present our data early next year.


To correlate (meaning: when things like facts or figures are closely connected – not by chance)

The results correlated consistently during our study.

Noun forms Other  forms
correlation (countable and uncountable)

·        Pronunciation: in the noun form, the word stress in this word moves to the penultimate syllable

·        This noun is often used with these verbs: observe, find, show, identify

·        This noun often collocates with these adjectives: poor, weak, negative, positive, clear, significant, close

·        This noun is often followed by the preposition ‘between

We observed a strong correlation between regular personalised feedback and student satisfaction.

Adjective form:

correlative (formal)

E.g. We discovered that several correlative clinical trials produced similar results.


Another noun form:


(meaning: an image that shows correlation statistics that change over time)


To emerge (meaning: to appear, to become known)

  • This verb is sometimes followed by the prepositions ‘from’ or ‘into’
  • Pronunciation: the first sound in this word is /ɪ/ (not /e/) – /ɪˈmɜː(r)dʒ/
  • These nouns are often used with this verb: idea, theory, trend, issue, evidence, details

After monitoring the level of salt deposits for a month, we noticed that a pattern had emerged.

Several interesting ideas emerged from our discussions.

Other meanings of this verb:

  • to appear from inside/behind something

The hatchling emerged from the egg independently.

  • to come out of a difficult situation

Having emerged from a period of limited growth, the organisation is once again beginning to thrive.

Noun forms Other forms
emergence (uncountable)


The emergence of new software for logging and monitoring microscopic changes dramatically increased the scope of our research.

Adjective forms:

emerging (meaning: new or starting to become known)

Opportunities for employment in this field have increased in several emerging markets.




To refer to (Phrasal verb) (meaning: to talk about or describe someone or something when speaking or writing)

In our report, we will refer to participants aged 18-30 as ‘Group A’.

Other meanings of this phrasal verb:

  • to send someone to get help or advice.

My doctor referred me to a physiotherapist.

  • to look at something for information.

If you refer to the relevant section of the report, you’ll see all the latest figures.

Noun forms Other forms
a reference

·        Pronunciation: in the noun form, the word stress in this word moves to the first syllable. Also, the second ‘e’ is not usually pronounced pronounced, so the word has two syllables – /ˈref(ə)rəns/

·        These verbs are often used with this noun: make, contain, include

In his presentation, he made multiple references to the work of his predecessor.


Another verb form:

to reference

(meaning: to talk about a piece of work OR to list all the sources mentioned in a piece of writing)

She referenced the work of Marie Curie in her presentation.

It is important to make sure all sources have been clearly referenced.


To require (meaning: to need)

This issue requires urgent attention.

Noun forms Other  forms
a requirement (meaning: something that must be done – often related to a rule or a law)

·        These verbs are often used with this noun: meet, satisfy, comply with, adhere to

The equipment did not comply with current safety requirements.

Adjective forms:

requisite (meaning: needed for a specific purpose)

We did not have the requisite number of respondents.

Examples of this language in use

Examples from the words in this lesson can be seen in the following extract.

On the emergence of the correlation between life expectancy and the variance in the age at death

  1. Linking changes in life expectancy to changes in the variance of the deaths distribution

Consider an age-structured population with finite maximum lifespan ω—let us refer to such populations as terminal populations—and denote by x the age of members in the population (measured in years). In theoretical demography sometimes ω = ∞ is considered. However, the presentation of our results below requires a finite ω-value. Whether—and to what extent—our results herein generalize to the ω = ∞ setting is an open question, and not the main objective of our investigation. As we articulated earlier, our main objective is to establish those results themselves, of which the most notable is a theoretical study of how the empirically documented variance–life expectancy correlation phases emerge. And, as with any theoretical study, ours necessarily requires making assumptions, the chief one of which in our case is that ω is. We will discuss this assumption further in §4 and in the Conclusion, after we have presented finite the findings we show flow from this assumption. This first hypothesis still retains some interest in the t-parameter underlying variance curves. But, returning to the discussion in the previous section, let us now shift perspective to focus solely on the shape of a variance curve and, in particular, the variance–life expectancy correlations it may feature. This yields our second hypothesis.

This extract is taken from: Fernandez Oscar E., Beltrán-Sánchez Hiram, 2022 On the emergence of the correlation between life expectancy and the variance in the age at death R. Soc. open sci. 9220020220020 http://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.220020

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Lesson tags: English for scientists, Word building
Back to: English for Scientists