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Hello everyone,

I've come across a sentence I'd like to make a bit less ambiguious if possible:

There is contradictory published experience dealing with food preferences of the same species.

The authors want to say that each of the contradictory reports deals with food preferences of one species only (which may or may not be the same species as the ones whose food preferences are dealt with in the other contradictory studies). In other words, one study = one species' food preferences.

My question is: Is the above sentence clear enough, or can/should it be rephrased in any way to avoid or reduce ambiguity?

Admittedly, no species are explicitly mentioned in the whole paragraph, which only deals with a higher taxonomic group (the genus the species are members of), so it might not be as confusing as presented - after all, I do understand it. On the other hand, both the authors and I could be influenced by our native language and hence unable to perceive what native speakers of English can perceive.

Many thanks for any suggestions!

P.
Comments  
petusekMy question is: Is the above sentence clear enough, or can/should it be rephrased in any way to avoid or reduce ambiguity?
Yes. The phrase 'published experience' is odd for a biological paper.

There are no contradictory research results on food preferences of this species.
Mister Micawber petusekMy question is: Is the above sentence clear enough, or can/should it be rephrased in any way to avoid or reduce ambiguity?Yes. The phrase 'published experience' is odd for a biological paper.There are no contradictory research results on food preferences of this species.
Thank you for your suggestion!

I agree the phrase 'published experience' is odd and I like 'research results' as a replacement.

On the other hand, unfortunately, I don't think your sentence solves the problem at all, because, in fact, there is a lot of contradiction in the results. Perhaps, I should try to explain better what the authors want to say.

1. There exist a number of research papers / studies / reports on food preferences of various species of the genus discussed in the present article.
2. Many of these papers / studies / reports deal with food preferences of one species only. That is, some of them deal with food preferences solely of species A, others with food preferences exclusively of species B and so on.
3. Nevertheless, different authors dealing exclusively with food preferences of species A seem to have arrived at different results, just as different authors seem to have arrived at different conclusions when studying only the feeding preferences of species B.

In other words, by 'the same' the authors of the above sentence want to imply (and emphasise, perhaps) that different studies focusing on the same species differ. I'm sure there are easier ways to say that, but I got stuck in a vicious circle. Emotion: big smile Emotion: embarrassed
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petusekIn other words, by 'the same' the authors of the above sentence want to imply (and emphasise, perhaps) that different studies focusing on the same species differ. I'm sure there are easier ways to say that, but I got stuck in a vicious circle.
That's what my sentence does; but you may use yours if you do not like it. I see no real ambiguity.
Thanks a lot. There's still so much to learn!
petusek: In other words, by 'the same' the authors of the above sentence want to imply (and emphasise, perhaps) that different studies focusing on the same species differ. I'm sure there are easier ways to say that, but I got stuck in a vicious circle.
Mister Micawber That's what my sentence does; but you may use yours if you do not like it. I see no real ambiguity.
Sorry to bother you with this topic again. I actually do agree now that the original sentence (using the same) is clear enough - you were definitely right, it is unambiguous, in fact.

But there's one more thing that still makes me wonder: in your proposal, you replace the same with this as follows:

There are no contradictory research results on food preferences of this species.

Not that I don't like the suggestion, but would it not imply that a particular species has been mentioned before? Would this not refer to that particular species rather than any species? I didn't know I could use this in this way!

I could imagine the following sentence in which the first mention is referred to by this:

Two different reports dealing with a particular species may come to different findings as to the food preferences of this species.

Your proposal would imply, however, that for this to be used there doesn't have to be any prior mention of the referent:

Two different reports may come to different findings as to the food preferences of this species.

Are you saying this is possible? If so, I find it extremely intriguing and will be happy to learn more!

Many thanks for broadening my horizons!
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petusekBut there's one more thing that still makes me wonder: in your proposal, you replace the same with this
I did that hoping it would appease you. To me, the two words were synonymous there.
petusekYour proposal would imply, however, that for this to be used there doesn't have to be any prior mention of the referent
I presumed it had been mentioned in context. Your original sentence lies in isolation. 'The same' also requires previous mention.
I'm not sure I understand the problem but am going to try anyway ...
petusekThere is contradictory published experience dealing with food preferences of the same species.
1. There exist a number of research papers / studies / reports on food preferences of various species of the genus discussed in the present article.
2. Many of these papers / studies / reports deal with food preferences of one species only. That is, some of them deal with food preferences solely of species A, others with food preferences exclusively of species B and so on.
3. Nevertheless, different authors dealing exclusively with food preferences of species A seem to have arrived at different results, just as different authors seem to have arrived at different conclusions when studying only the feeding preferences of species B.

In other words, by 'the same' the authors of the above sentence want to imply (and emphasise, perhaps) that different studies focusing on the same species differ.

Two different reports dealing with a particular species may come to different findings as to the food preferences of this species.
Other published studies report conflicting food preferences for individual (or certain or particular) species of this genus.

Other published studies disagree regarding the food preferences of individual species, however our findings suggest ....

Other published studies with differing methodologies have come to conflicting conclusions regarding the food preferences of a particular species.

The current literature contains conflicting reports ...

That's all I could come up with ...

Do you have an abstract or working draft available online?
That's almost perfect, thank you! I thought I could use something like 'individual' or 'particular' there.

Well, I do have an abstract, but the paper hasn't been published yet and I'm not sure I can put it here, because I'm not the author. I've only been asked for help by the actual authors, because my experience with English is a little wider than theirs, but, frankly, sometimes I merely feel the particular word / phrase / clause / sentence / passage is odd without being able to identify the problem - I just realize I'd never write it that way.

I think I may have figured it out at last - thanks to your suggestion, of course:

1a. I'd get rid of 'published' (it's probably reduntant anyway) and change 'experience' to 'reports';
1b. I'd retain 'published', but change 'experience' to 'evidence'
2. I'd change 'of the same species' to 'of the same individual species';

So, the following....

There is contradictory published experience dealing with food preferences of the same species.

...would change to this:

(X1) There is contradictory published evidence concerning food preferences of the same individual species.
(X2) There are contradictory reports on food preferences of the same individual species.


Would that work?Emotion: smile
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