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Key to Reading Research Reports and Statistics:

Always take statistical and scientific claims with a grain of salt when the writer throws them about without sufficient explanation or discussion. In the case of unverified claims, take them with shovel-fulls of salt. Science, like any other discipline, involves human beings. Human writers may take up hyperbole in defense of their argument. One statistical psychologist suggested that the following translation guide may be necessary when reading unsubstantiated reports from other researchers. 

What The Researcher Says . . .

What That Really Means . .  .

It has been long known that . . .

I haven't bothered to look up the original reference, but . . .

Of great theoretical and practical importance . . .

Interesting to me . . .

While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to those questions . . .

The experiment didn't work out, but I figured I could get a publication out of it.

The operant conditioning technique was chosen to study the problem. . . .

The fellow in the next lab already had the equipment set up.

Three of the subjects were chosen for detailed study. . . .

The results on the others didn't make sense.

Typical results are shown.

The best results are shown.

Agreement with the predicted curve is . . .

Agreement with the predicted curve is . . .


It is suggested that. . . It is believed that. . . It is generally believed that. . . It may be that. . .

A couple of other people think so too.

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding.

I don't understand it.

Unfortunately, a quantitative theory to account for these results has not been formulated.

I can't think of one and neither has anyone else I know.

Correct with an order of magnitude. . . .


Thanks are due to Joe Jones for assistance with the experiments and to John Doe for valuable discussion.

Jones did the work and Doe explained what it meant.

Taken from The American Psychologist, March 1962, pg. 154 by Milton Hodge, University of Georgia.


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