Okay so I have collected personal spending data of myself and significant other over a period of 6 months. I'm quite happy with the data and would like to present it and write it up as a research paper. I'm not going to be publishing it but would like to do it for fun (and a bit of practice can't hurt).

The dilemma I am facing at the moment is that I cannot figure out how to refer to myself or my significant other as participants in the study. I have been trying to figure this out for a few days now and google is really giving me a hard time. I cannot find a single thing relevant to what I am trying to do.

My first issue I have come to is that I am captioning a figure that reads similar to this. Figure 1: Average daily spending vs time for myself (solid line) and significant other (dotted line).

Is this the correct way to refer to myself and significant other? It feels much too informal for my liking. I have considered making a small statement that states that myself will be referred to as "participant A" and my significant other will be referred to as "participant B", but this might add unnecessary confusion.

Is there a standard on this? This has been driving me absolutely crazy over the past few days and would really appreciate any insight or suggestions.

  • 5
    You've hit into a more general problem of writing a paper: if you don't know how to write something, you're probably doing it wrong. And as you've figured out already, any "science" done over a sample of 2 participants is not publishable.
    – tarulen
    Apr 13, 2016 at 13:44
  • @Laurent This is really annoying me that I cannot respond to your comment so I'm hoping you get a notification for this. "if you don't know how to write something, you're probably doing it wrong." For this exact reason is why I am here asking my question. Whether or not my paper is publishable or not is irrelevant for the fact you've acknowledged - I'm not in any way wanting to publish it. Surely a sample size of 2 doesn't automatically render this study unscientific as you've suggested. It entirely depends on the hypothesis being tested. I don't see any reason why I can't draw conclusions on
    – Bradley S
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:32
  • 2
    "The author" is pretty common and should work for you.
    – user37208
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:04
  • 1
    @Bradley, I don't mean to say your study is unscientific, as you can still use rigorous scientific tools to study such a small sample. But in itself your paper cannot draw any conclusion that could be generalized to any larger population. If you want to achieve this goal (and I imagine this is a criterion for a study to be published), then you need a large, unbiased sample. "I and my wife" is quite definitely neither large nor unbiased.
    – tarulen
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:46
  • @laurent N-of-1 and case study designs are a staple of many fields of experimental science.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 13, 2016 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


Use the names "Participant 1" and "Participant 2" in figure captions and throughout the text. You can then, if you want, explain at one point, who these participants are (if it actually matters), but at least you don't have to repeatedly refer to yourself and your s.o..

You must log in to answer this question.

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