For example, I am conducting research in "human attention".

Two papers both use the terminology "attention maps". However, actually one paper refer "attention maps" as "gaze maps" and the other refer "attention maps" as "importance maps". They are both right as "gaze maps" and "importance maps" are just the sub-classes of "attention maps". The terms "gaze maps" and "importance maps" are just made up by me to clarify the two concepts.

Normally, when I cite other people's work, I just use their terminology directly. But now I have to cite them both with the same name. How to deal with this situation? Is there a conventional way?

  • Surely you should be explaining the idea or concept that you are referring to? Not expecting the reference(s) to deal with the ambiguity?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 6:53
  • 'legal'? Perhaps 'conventional' would be a better way of putting it?
    – Jessica B
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 7:03
  • Hi I have modified it.
    – hidemyname
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 7:54
  • It is unclear whether "gaze maps" and "importance maps" are intersecting sub-classes.
    – user2768
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 8:49

2 Answers 2


I'd suggest:

  1. Introducing attention maps;
  2. Discussing the specifics of sub-classes gaze maps and importance maps, without reference to their names; and
  3. Mention that subclasses are known as attention maps by <> [X] and gaze maps [Y].

Depending on whether gaze maps and importance maps are the same sub-class, distinct sub-classes, or intersecting sub-classes determines some of the specifics of how I'd handle the final point. As written, I've assumed they are the same-sub-class.

  • Thank you !!! I am conducting research in an interdisciplinary that involves a lot of ambiguous concepts. Researchers from different fields tend to use the different names for the same concept. It is quite annoying to work in the middle because you don't know which one to use.
    – hidemyname
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 16:29
  • @deathlee, I suggest providing that information in the paper, it will no doubt be a useful point for many.
    – user2768
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 17:11

I think the way you do this will depend on how the referenced material fits into the text. Probably indirect quoting will be better than direct. If the difference is too insignificant to bother with then skip over it. But if the difference is important to your point, explain the situation.


[Ref1] and [Ref2] both studied attention maps, focusing on different types of attention map. Looking at 'gaze maps', [Ref1] found that (stuff), whereas in the context of 'importance maps' [Ref2] concluded (other stuff).

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