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Consider the following sentence as a starter of the final paragraph of an article:

While previous studies have proven to be valuable, a potential drawback of the type of methods used is that they evaluate . . ..

When I read that sentence out loud, it sounds a bit “clumpy” perhaps even a bit informal. Is there better way to phrase such a sentence? Alternatively, am I worried for no reason here?

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I vote for worried without reason. – Ed Guiness Mar 8 '13 at 15:29
I assume clumpy was intended to be read as clunky. Right? – tchrist Mar 8 '13 at 16:32
@tchrist yep, see the comment to StoneyB's answer – posdef Mar 8 '13 at 16:38
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The only problem here is with they evaluate.

Presumably, it refers to methods, since that is the only plural antecedent in that clause. But consider what it looks like when you shuffle the pieces around:

The type of methods used evaluate X.

The subject of this clause is type, not methods, and it requires a singular verb.

What you want to say is:

... a potential drawback with methods of the type used is that they evaluate ...

I've changed drawback of to drawback with to avoid two ofs that close to each other, but that's just for my ear: it's not essential.

Finally, I think the word you want is clunky, 'mechanically awkward', not clumpy, 'composed of clumps'.

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Thanks, "clumpy" is a swenglish invention that unfortunately got away when I was trying to formulate my concern with the way I formulated the sentence in the OP. Oh and I actually did not use "they" but instead "these methods" in the actual text, the real sentence is pretty long and technical so I tried to simplify it a bit when I posted here :) – posdef Mar 8 '13 at 15:45
Clumpy is an ordinary adjective formed from clump. He wouldn't go down the slope with me; he said it looked too clumpy down there and he was afraid he wouldn't be able to get through. Perfectly coherent in meaning with other KL- words. – John Lawler Mar 8 '13 at 16:43
@JohnLawler Fersher it's a legit word. I said as much. But I don't think it's the word he meant. – StoneyB Mar 8 '13 at 16:45
@StoneyB: Sorry, missed that. But it's still in the same phonosemantic ballpark as clunky, as well as being close phonetically. – John Lawler Mar 8 '13 at 16:48
@JohnLawler Which explains why we say KiLL the UMP - because he's traditionally a three-dimensional being of roughly equal sizes in all dimensions who frequently malfunctions, audibly. – StoneyB Mar 8 '13 at 18:22

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