Writing a paper – day 1: language for showing development 1

Writing a paper – day 1: language for showing development 1

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When writing academically, it is often necessary to discuss the ways in which things develop. The following language can be helpful in doing this. Although you may be familiar with this vocabulary, it may be useful to pay attention to the more nuanced meanings across different word forms.

to advance

(meaning: to develop, move forward or improve)

E.g. The treatment has advanced greatly since its first application.

Noun forms:

  1. advance/advances (countable/uncountable) (meaning: progress)

E.g. There have been significant advances in smartphone technology in recent years.

  1. an advance (countable) (meaning: money that is paid before work is completed)

E.g. We requested an advance in order to increase cash flow.

  1. an advance (countable) (meaning: movement towards something or someone – often by military parties/groups)

E.g. The regiment advanced towards the city.

Adjective forms:

  1. advance

a) done before a particular event.

E.g. We gave all parties advance warning of the disruption to normal service.

b)  a group of people who are sent somewhere before others

E.g. A small advance team or researchers arrived on site to set up the laboratory.

2. advanced

a) having the newest ideas/technology

E.g. The use of advanced technology allows us to complete a larger number of tests using fewer resources.

b) a high level course

E.g. All of the students who enrolled on the advanced mathematics had been supported by private tutors.

C) when an illness has developed and is difficult to treat

E.g. When in an advanced stage, this illness can cause complete immobility.

d) being of a high standard (compared with peers)

E.g. Around 10% of the students had advanced mathematical skills for their age.

3. advancing (meaning: progressing)

E.g. Thanks to advancing medical technology, new treatments may soon be available.

(!) This word can also be a polite way of talking about someone getting older

E.g. They had become more sedentary due to their advancing years.

to develop

(meaning: to get bigger or better)

E.g. In order to develop our knowledge of this species’ habitat, we installed a variety of cameras and censors.

Noun form:

  1. development (countable/uncountable) (meaning: improvement/growth over time – often referring to science or economics)

E.g. We focused on the development of a streamlined method in order to conduct more time-efficient data collection.

  1. development (countable) (meaning: new buildings on a piece of land)

E.g. The lack of infrastructure surrounding the new development has raised concerns among local residents.

 Adjective forms:

  1. developed

a) when a country or society has multiple industries and a lot of business activity

E.g. When launching a business within a developed economy, certain factors must be taken into consideration.

b) an advanced quality, idea or skill – often the result of hard work and practise)

E.g. Their highly developed linguistic skills enable them to learn new dialects with ease.

2. developing (meaning: when a country is poor and trying to improve its industries and economy

E.g. In this particular developing country, limited access to clean water is a common problem.

3. developmental

a) being connected to a child’s learning and growth

E.g. In younger children, disrupted sleep is often linked to developmental changes.

b) connected to a country’s development)

E.g. We have a number of developmental policies to consider.

to extend

(meaning: to make something larger, longer or more wide-reaching)

E.g. We hope to extend the reach of this initiative in the future.

Noun form


  1. a room which is added to a building

E.g. The extension was erected without permission from the local authority.

2. a telephone line that comes from a main line

E.g. You can reach me on extension 238.

3. extra time (given so that you can finish a piece of work OR pay money that is owed OR use a legal document)

E.g. Following the disruption caused by the storm, we requested an extension to the application deadline.

4. something that is added so that an object can have a longer reach

E.g. By fitting an extension to the camera, we were able to see deeper into the crevice.

5. the physical movement/act of stretching a body part

E.g. Extension of the leg was not possible before treatment.

Adjective forms

  1. extended

a) longer than usual

E.g. We extended the parameters of our study to reach a wider audience.

b) stretched out

E.g. The fully extended arms of the mechanism reached the highest point of the building.

2. extendable (something that can be made longer)

E.g. The mechanism makes use of an extendable leg, which is able to attach to most surfaces.

Examples of this language in use

Examples of language from this lesson can be found in the following extract.


Recent advances in ultrafast X-ray sources promise to transform the field of X-ray science in the twenty-first century. The generation of high-brightness (in some cases, fully coherent) ultrafast X-ray pulses spanning the EUV, soft X-ray and hard X-ray ranges now enable sensitive probing of structural dynamics in matter on the fundamental timescales of atomic motion. The development of tuneable subfemtosecond coherent X-ray sources further enables element-specific probing of electronic structure, charge dynamics and coupling to atomic structure on fundamental timescales of electronic motion. Synchrotron-based X-ray sources have been the workhorse in the field of X-ray science for nearly half a century, and effective methods have been developed to extend the time resolution of these sources to the sub-picosecond regime. Table-top plasma X-ray sources have been refined to become compact, reliable sources of less than 100 fs hard X-ray pulses at the laboratory scale, and table-top HHG XUV sources have opened the attosecond time domain. Most significantly, XFELs have been demonstrated, and are proliferating worldwide. They provide tuneable coherent X-ray beams, many orders of magnitude brighter than any previously available X-ray source, with pulse durations that are now extending to the attosecond domain.

This extract is taken from: Schoenlein Robert, Elsaesser Thomas, Holldack Karsten, Huang Zhirong, Kapteyn Henry, Murnane Margaret and Woerner Michael, 2019, Recent advances in ultrafast X-ray sources Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 377: 20180384. 20180384. http://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2018.0384

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Lesson tags: English for science, language for showing development, writing a paper
Back to: English for Scientists