Language for the introduction to your research

Language for the introduction to your research

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When discussing theories and the basis of your research, it is often necessary to discuss the origins of certain elements of your work.

Phrasal verbs for discussing origins

to come from (meaning: to start somewhere or be produced by something)

  • This phrasal verb is transitive and non-separable.
  • This phrasal verb is a state verb so cannot be used in the continuous form.

E.g. The word ‘hippocampus’ comes from the Greek hippokampos.

to stem from (meaning: to be caused by or be the result of something)

  • This phrasal verb is transitive and non-separable.
  • This phrasal verb is a state verb so cannot be used in the continuous form.

E.g.  Our research stems from a need for greater insight in the long-term damage caused by this condition.

to derive from

  • to develop from something

This phrasal verb is usually transitive and is separable. It is often used in the passive form.

E.g. Their hesitance to participate derives from a fear of outsiders.

  • to get something from something else (often used in chemistry)

E.g. We found that products derived from this species all contained the same protein.

E.g. Cellulose derived from cotton fibre was treated with camphor.

Verbs for discussing origins

to originate

  • (intransitive verb) to appear, start to exist or to happen for the first time in a particular situation/place

When used as an intransitive verb, this verb is usually followed by a preposition.

E.g. It is thought that the disease originated in Central Africa. 

  • (transitive verb) to start something or create something new

E.g. Despite efforts to discover who originated this theory, its source remains unknown.

to elucidate (meaning: to explain something or give more information to make it clearer)

E.g. the aim of our study is to elucidate the long-term side effects of this treatment. 

to extrapolate (meaning: to use the available facts or information to form an opinion or prediction about something)

This verb is usually used with the prepositions ‘from’ or ‘to’

E.g. By extrapolating from current test results, we are able to predict certain outcomes. 

to elicit (meaning: to obtain a reaction or information from someone or something)

E.g. The publication of our study’s findings elicited a strong response. 

to extricate (meaning: to free someone from a difficult or dangerous situation or from a situation in which they are stuck)

E.g. Heat sensors were used to help extricate the survivors from the wreckage. 

to extract

to take something from somewhere/someone (often used to describe one substance being taken from another in scientific writing)

E.g. We extracted our data from the recent census.

E.g. The shells were then crushed in order to extract the pigment. 

Nouns for discussing origins

a foundation

  • (often plural) the part of a structure of building that supports it from below the ground

E.g. After planning permission was granted, we were able to lay the foundations.

  • Or the simplest part of an idea or principle that things can develop from.

This noun is often used with these positive verbs: lay, build, create, form, establish, strengthen, underpin, reinforce.

This noun is often used with these negative verbs: undermine, weaken, shake, destroy.

E.g. The foundations of our research lie in recent discoveries surrounding stem cell technology.

  • a fundraising organisation

E.g. We were awarded a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assist with our research project.

  • the creation of an organisation or place

E.g. The organisation has grown dramatically in the 15 years since its foundation.

a cornerstone

  • a part of something that everything else depends on

E.g. This concept is the cornerstone of our argument.

  • a stone which is often laid as part of a ceremony celebrating a new building, situated at one of the bottom corners.

E.g. The celebrated author was asked to lay the cornerstone at the inauguration of the new library.


  • a strong foundation for something, especially used for principles or ideas that a system is based on

E.g. These key figures form the bedrock of the local community.

E.g. This outdated theory is the bedrock on which many misconceptions have been built.

  • (in geology) the solid rock under the ground that supports loose soil and sand above

E.g. The grinding and crushing of bedrock can trigger the release of nutrients and certain gases.

Examples of this language in use

This extract is from different parts of the same article and shows how some of this language can be used.

1. Introduction

Some of the strongest evidence for the Lévy-flight foraging hypothesis has come from telemetry data for marine predators such sharks, bony fish, sea turtles and penguins [16,17]. Nonetheless, the key to prediction and understanding lies in the elucidation of mechanisms underlying the observed patterns [18]. ‘Without an understanding of mechanisms, one must evaluate the stress on each new system de novo, without any scientific basis for extrapolation; with such an understanding, one has the foundation for understanding’ [18]. This sentiment was recently echoed by Stumpf & Porter [19], who rightly noted that ‘a statistically sound power-law is no evidence of universality without a concrete underlying “generative mechanism” to support it’.

The analysis stems from Kolmogorov’s similarity theory of turbulence [21]. Kolmogorov similarity theory has provided a cornerstone for the interpretation of oceanic spectral measurements of turbulence and some of its predictions have been convincingly verified by observations [22]. According to this theory, the turbulent velocities, u(t), of the water in the immediate vicinity of a moving predator are characterized by 〈Δu2(Δt)〉∝ε2/3V2/3Δt2/3, where t is time, ε is the mean rate of dissipation of turbulent kinetic, V is the speed of the predator relative to the water and Δu(Δt)=u(t+Δt)−u(t). Directly analogous scaling was obtained by Fung et al. [23] for inertial particles falling through turbulent flows. The scaling 〈Δu2(Δt)〉∝Δt2/3 can also be derived directly from the observed form of the energy spectrum without invoking Kolmogorov similarity theory.

This extract is taken from: Reynolds A. M., 2014 Lévy flight movement patterns in marine predators may derive from turbulence cues, Proc. R. Soc. A. 470. 20140408. 20140408. http://doi.org/10.1098/rspa.2014.0408

Lesson tags: English for science, Language for introductions
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