17

I want to say, "In our experience/as far as we know/etc., A only requires a few iterations to converge," without citing any relevant literature, particularly because I could not find any relevant literature on this topic.

What is an appropriate way to say that without being too "subjective"?

8
  • 8
    Avoid using it! No way to use that! Sep 20, 2023 at 13:59
  • 12
    "Empirically" is often a fitting term.
    – Silveri
    Sep 20, 2023 at 19:37
  • 4
    "we found" or "in practice, XYZ avoided WVU"? Or even "we chose". Your paper describes the observations from your research. If you can defend not having qualified sources for some choices, surely you can state the choices.
    – sehe
    Sep 20, 2023 at 23:09
  • 2
    In what field are you publishing? Sep 21, 2023 at 11:30
  • 3
    I have used such phrase in multiple papers. For instance, the value H=5 is chosen based on prior modeling experience.
    – KratosMath
    Sep 21, 2023 at 12:32

4 Answers 4

48

I would challenge your framing and ask why, exactly, you are caveating "your experience". I have no problem with "in our experience" as an expression. But what is it about your experience that you suspect might not replicate if others try it?

Try to locate what you have and haven't tested and be explicit about it. This sentence is reasonable:

In our experience, sharks do not interrupt underwater basket weavers.

but this is much better:

Over the past ten years we have often been approached by sharks while weaving baskets underwater with no adverse incidents. However, the local shark population is mostly composed of docile nurse sharks and sand sharks. As such, we would welcome further research into the safety of underwater basket weaving while in the vicinity of great white sharks, loan sharks, land sharks, or baby sharks (doo doo doo doo doo doo).

6
  • 14
    The first one is much better if you don't want to go into detail and if an excessively long explanation would be distracting
    – toby544
    Sep 20, 2023 at 12:11
  • 17
    @toby544 - In my experience, mountain lions never interrupt dinner at home. But then, I've never seen a mountain lion at dinner, at home or in the woods. The second one has perhaps necessary detail on underwater basketweaving shark safety precautions.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 20, 2023 at 12:31
  • 14
    or baby sharks (doo doo doo doo doo doo) - I audibly laughed at this. I applaud the lengthy serious answer leading up to this joke. Well done.
    – 3dbrows
    Sep 21, 2023 at 9:09
  • 2
    @JonCuster OK. If several lines of details are necessary, then they are necessary, and if they are not, then they are not.
    – toby544
    Sep 21, 2023 at 10:07
  • 2
    @3dbrows: I hope you didn't miss that final joke was immediately preceded by two more jokes, with both loan sharks and (depending on which of the related synonyms with different meanings you pick) land sharks belonging to the less waterborne types of shark ;) Sep 22, 2023 at 8:33
24

as far as we know

Suggestion: "To the best of our knowledge, [...]".

In our experience

Suggestion: "Based on our experiments, [...]".

Note that "experience" is much broader than "experiments". Therefore, in some contexts, "experience" can't be replaced with "experiments".

3
  • 16
    I wouldn't use "Based on our experiments", unless I have experiments in this paper that show this.
    – J. Doe
    Sep 20, 2023 at 14:52
  • 1
    @terdon depends on the context. OP decides. I am just giving suggestions. "experience" is much broader than "experiments" indeed. Sep 20, 2023 at 18:08
  • @J.Doe Page limits may have chopped those extra experiments. Sep 20, 2023 at 19:27
13

In the following samples, let "IT" be "A only requires a few iterations to converge".

If IT is common knowledge:

"As is well known, IT ..."

If IT is intuitive to a subject matter expert:

"As is obvious, IT ..."

If IT was experimentally determined by you as part of your research and the experiment would be obvious to any expert in the field:

"As we determined by simple experiment, IT ..."

If IT is an assumption based on your experience, but it may not be obvious to other experts in the field:

"We assert that IT ..."

If you as an expert have a suspicion, but aren't strictly certain:

"We believe it true that IT ..."

If you don't know:

"We assume that IT ..."

Importantly, choose words that accurately reflect your knowledge about it. Don't try to bolster your argument by choosing words that connote stronger evidence than you actually have. That you're even asking the question suggests to me that you're on the right track!

You may also be interested in Writing@CSU Writing Guide: Using the Toulmin Method. This approachable guide provides a systematic approach to examining and critiquing arguments based on evidence. I find it helpful after writing an article to "see it from the other side", breaking out of my author tunnel vision.

4
  • 8
    In general, I would recommend never saying something is obvious Sep 20, 2023 at 22:20
  • 2
    “If Church said it’s obvious, then everybody saw it a half hour ago. If Weyl says it’s obvious, von Neumann can prove it. If Lefschetz says it’s obvious, it’s false.” - J. Barkley Rosser
    – bishop
    Sep 21, 2023 at 0:24
  • 2
    I despise the words "obvious", "clearly", "trivial" and their ilk in mathematical writing. I feel similarly about things like "it is well known...". These are rhetorical crutches which don't actually add anything to the exposition, and have to potential to insult the reader. If something is obvious, you don't have to tell the reader that it is obvious. They'll know. Compare "It is well-known that $2+2=4$, hence..." vs "Since $2+2=4$, ...". Fewer words, and you aren't insulting your reader if they aren't up on the same literature as you. Sep 21, 2023 at 12:29
  • @XanderHenderson Regarding your last example, I think the opposite way. IMO (unless you're referring to a fact established earlier in the paper) "Since [fact],... " is no better than "Obviously [fact], so... "; both versions suggest, either explicitly or implicitly, that the reader should be able to see why the fact is true. "It is well known that [fact], so..." reassures the reader that it is not "obvious". Sep 26, 2023 at 10:17
3

I have no problems with "in my experience". Particularly, I don't see why it improves anything regarding objectivity to use words that "sound more objective" to say the same thing. Either you have convincing reasons or evidence that could be explained (then explain them in detail), or it's just your experience, and then I don't see any reason not to be honest about it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .