I was given feedback by a reviewer that the article I had submitted shouldn't contain we-type sentences, as they made the article sound less scholarly (yes; I know; it’s a peculiarity of my field).

I want your advice on how to rewrite the following phrases to be more “scholarly” sounding:

  1. From Table 1 we can infer that …

  2. In Table 1 we can see that …

  • 5
    How about "Table 1 shows that" or "Table 1 suggests that" (depending on how strong the inference from Table 1 is)? Alternatively, replace "we" with "one" and you'll be in the area that some people call scholarly and others call pompous. – Andreas Blass Nov 24 '16 at 20:14
  • 11
    @user1883050 you can rest assured that reviewers who give stupid feedback are decidedly not a peculiarity of your field. – Dan Romik Nov 24 '16 at 22:17
  • 2
    @Sana What are you talking about? In French one can use "on" instead of "nous" usually. But "on" doesn't mean "one", it's an indeterminate number of unknown persons... And besides it's rather familiar if you use it to replace "nous", I don't think it would go well in an academic paper. – user9646 Nov 25 '16 at 8:19
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    @NajibIdrissi "One" in english does translate as "on" in french (except when it means "1" of course). In the spoken language, it is used as a familiar form of "we", but in written, it will usually be read as the impersonal pronoun. – T. Verron Nov 25 '16 at 8:50
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    @T.Verron I know that, which is why I'm trying to make sense of Sana's comment. The only word that I can think of as being "interchangeable" with "nous" is "on", and as I wrote it's not translated as "one" in English, and it's rather familiar. (BTW, "1" is not translated to "on", it's "un" or "une".) – user9646 Nov 25 '16 at 8:56

I had the same struggles. The general solution would be to start using the passive.

  1. It can be inferred ...
  2. It is Apparent from Fig/Table ...
  3. The results depicted in X would be always true ...

I actually dislike this style (since it is more boring; even though it is assumed the correct style to write academic reports, paper, thesis, dissertations etc. in Germany)

  • 3
    2 and 3 are not passive, in part because passive sentences require a verb. (One could argue that 1 isn't really passive either, but rather an active-voice sentence (describing the ability of "it" to do something) with a passive-voice dependent clause.) – JeffE Nov 25 '16 at 13:13
  • I'm not sure you can just write the number 2. It should be "It is apparent from fig.". Also, although depicted sounds nice to me, I had our english correction change lots of these depict, demonstrate... Maybe it was his peculiarity. For me it sounds nice. – BioGeo Nov 25 '16 at 13:46
  • Yes sorry, just jotted them down. – Michael Nov 25 '16 at 13:50

A few examples:

  1. "From Table 1, it can be inferred that"; "From Table 1, one can infer that"; "As can be inferred from Table 1".
  2. "In Table 1, rows X and Y show that"; "In Table 1, it can be observed that".

Do they better convey the meaning with respect to your choices? Not in the slightest. But maybe they will make the reviewer happier.

  • 2
    Also "From Table 1, it can be inferred that," and "Table 1 implies that." – aparente001 Nov 25 '16 at 0:17

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