I am trying to write a paper. We have done certain experiments and results from it are good. So, I feel that if our idea can be implemented in other sites, it can benefit those sites. Now my question is simple, how can I write in scientific context that the results of my study is useful to others?

For example,

We believe that the analysis results from our study can benefit bla bla....

Is it appropriate to write as below

We feel/think/suppose that the analysis results from our study can benefit bla bla...

Any scientific word equivalent for "believe"?

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    Believe is synonymous with feel, think or suppose in this context and is fine to use. Mar 2, 2021 at 8:30
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    'Consider' or 'suggest' would seem like reasonable alternatives here. However, I do not think this question is really appropriate to Academia.SE.
    – avid
    Mar 2, 2021 at 8:35
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    @avid Why, though? Mar 2, 2021 at 8:41
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    Perhaps just don’t? I doubt I’ve ever used the word believe or similar in my academic writing. My beliefs ought not enter my science.
    – Oxonon
    Mar 2, 2021 at 20:19
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    @Oxonon A standard (though of course debated) definition of "knowledge" in epistemology is "justified true belief". You may read subjectivist connotations into "belief", but they are not intrinsic to the word itself. Mar 3, 2021 at 12:23

4 Answers 4


The word "believe" is a very fine word to use in a scientific article.

Generally, it's a good practice to separate factual information (data, observations, results) from subjective information (interpretation, speculation). The word "believe" clearly puts a statement in the latter category.

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    @xLeitix I think "weasel words" are good in scientific writing since they express the uncertainty inherit in scientific investigation. When the data provides support for "X causes Y", there are usually a few loopholes (statistical uncertainty and different interpretations) that make "our data shows..." too strong of a statement. Mar 2, 2021 at 17:34
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    @xLeitix I see a collision of values here. "Assertive language" can be useful as a means to persuade and get papers accepted, but loses out on accuracy. That becomes a problem as soon as the research actually has any implications for the real world. The situation with the media coverage of COVID19 research and its implications are an example of why compromising on accuracy is a bad idea, and we as scientists should strive to avoid that. Mar 2, 2021 at 17:46
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    @lighthousekeeper the reason behind "avoid weasel words" is that you shouldn't be publishing a bunch of conclusions that you can't actually prove by couching them in equivocal language, when you know that readers are likely to give them more credence than they deserve because "it's in a scientific paper". The fix isn't to use more confident language, it's to delete that stuff. A little bit of clearly-marked speculation is alright, but it shouldn't be substantial.
    – hobbs
    Mar 2, 2021 at 20:30
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    @hobbs "you shouldn't be publishing a bunch of conclusions that you can't actually prove", then forget about pretty much all experimental sciences (physics, psychology, biology, ...) where data do not "prove" anything but at most can be used to check if there is enough support for your hypothesis (e.g. by checking the posterior probabilities).
    – Luca Citi
    Mar 2, 2021 at 23:34
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    Irrespective of this conversation, the word believe isn't acting as a weasel word in the situation indicated by the OP. Its not being used to hide a lack of support for a proposition, but addressing a proposition that is inherently subjective. Mar 3, 2021 at 13:37

It probably isn't a big issue for a reader as they will understand your intent, but I'd rather suggest:

Evidence from the results of this study imply that ... benefit ...

Make the statement about the study, not about yourselves: what you found, not what you think.

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    Some style guides advise against such statements because they obscure the agency of the authors. Exceptions are Math and TCS, where deductive conclusions are possible. Mar 2, 2021 at 14:46
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    @lighthousekeeper You can get the best of both worlds with "Evidence ... leads us to believe ..." Mar 2, 2021 at 15:04
  • @EthanBolker, I think that actually weakens the statement. As if there is some doubt what the evidence implies.
    – Buffy
    Mar 2, 2021 at 15:15
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    @Buffy With "such statements" I mean the suggestion in your answer. "We believe" does not obscure the agency of the authors, but is transparent about it. Mar 2, 2021 at 15:17
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    In other words, the results don't imply anything, the authors interpret the results to imply something. Unless you're talking about a formalized, computer verifiable mathematical proof, human interpretation is always necessary to assign meaning to empirical observation.
    – d_b
    Mar 2, 2021 at 18:47

Those words can be ranked in order of strength:

  • believe > think >= suppose > feel

A belief is considered true by the believer, it's the strongest (assuming a rational believer). A thought/supposition is an opinion or judgement, allowing for doubt. A feeling is a best guess, the weakest. Use them accordingly.


Assertive communication theory states that you must be precise and speak the truth when you present results. It is not the truth that your results will benefit others. It is the truth that you believe that your results will benefit others. So be precise.

Similarly, in most fields you cannot truthfully state "A causes B", because you don't know. B could be causing A; or Z could be causing both A and B; or you might have simply been unlucky (which happens 1 time out of 20 at a 95% confidence level). So you must state "We believe this shows that A causes B".

However, one "We believe" per paragraph is sometimes enough, to avoid being prolix.

For more on all this, see the world-class excellent mind-expanding "Language in Thought and Action" by Sen. Hayakawa. Warning: It may take about a week to digest each chapter properly; take it slowly.


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