In my project work I came up with a new method for solving a certain problem which has not been used before, by extending an already existing approach.

What type of wording should I use in academic writing to express this fact.

I wrote something in the lines of, but would like to have something more elegant:

Furthermore, in my project work I propose a novel approach by extending X and incorporating an xyz mechanism to it in order to get better Z metric


I would also like to say, that "something similar has never been done before to our knowledge"

  • 1
    What does your advisor or collaborator say? Or whoever else you can talk to with experience in your field?
    – David Z
    Jul 16, 2015 at 13:21
  • 3
    "Extending an already existing approach" and "novel" are contradictory terms.
    – Alexandros
    Jul 16, 2015 at 15:33
  • @Alexandros that depends how far the "existing approach" has been extended... Jul 16, 2015 at 18:08
  • Novel kinda means something similar has never been done before to our knowledge.
    – JoErNanO
    Jul 27, 2015 at 21:04

4 Answers 4


Given that you are sure of novelty of your work, you can write something like: " to the best of our knowledge, the proposed approach is the first to do...." and show the novelty in your approach.


It's not enough to just say that your approach is novel. You need to make a convincing case that your approach is actually novel. This requires a thorough literature review of existing techniques for the problem you are attacking, together with direct comparisons between your technique and each of those existing techniques.

The message you want to send is "I have read every paper on this topic, and none of them do this thing that I'm about to do." The novice reader will just believe you, but the expert reader, who has probably spent decades thinking about your problem, will look for their favorite handful of papers in your survey. Make sure they find them.

You also need to understand the standards for novelty in your field. The same technique can be considered completely revolutionary in one field and a standard modification of classical textbook methods in another. (Yes, both views can be correct.)

Of course, the real reason to prepare this literature review is to convince yourself that your approach is actually novel. Because it probably isn't. Most “novel” techniques aren't.

  • 3
    This is good advice. Let me remark that how much to cite varies considerably based on the academic field [as we've discussed before]. In my subject of mathematics, citations are used rather sparingly, to the extent that citing papers to show a lack of connection is not usually done unless there is a significant expectation that the typical reader would expect such a connection. In any case, doing an extensive literature review for one's own sake is dead on. Jul 16, 2015 at 17:15
  • Thanks for your answer and suggestions, although I believe it is a bit off the mark. I was just looking for proper wording and not what novel means in terms of science and research. Of course I came to the conclusion that the approach is new after thoroughly reviewing related work and consulting my supervisors Jul 16, 2015 at 18:02
  • 2
    As they say in creative writing courses, "show, don't tell". Jul 17, 2015 at 0:31

This paper presents a novel method for achieving Z metric. The method uses xyz mechanism combined with existing method x. This combination yields performance capabilities relative to z that were previously not possible or feasible with x alone. To support our claim of novelty, the following paragraphs present a comprehensive review of the relevant literature and comparisons to our method.

Then you follow with literature review and comparisons


If the question is indeed about proper wording that balances the novelty / modesty, why not:

Confronted with problem X, I tried all known approachs without success. Further analysis showed that approach Z yelded the closest results to the intended goal. Based on this observation, I worked on a Y mechanism allowing a better metric and, by integrating it with Z approach, developed a novel Z++ approach.

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