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I find it rather odd when someone writes that an item was used "in prediction" of 'X', however I don't know whether that is my own preference or it's actually incorrect. Personally, I think that 'for' is much more appropriate.

To illustrate my point, here is an example of a sentence and how I would correct it:

1 : "Y is a risk factor in predicting cancer recurrence"

2 : "Y is a risk factor for predicting cancer recurrence"

I feel both sentences convey the same point, but "in predicting" just sounds weird to me; I prefer option 2. Is there are difference between 1 and 2, or am I just being picky?

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3 Answers 3

2 seems logically incorrect to me. It seems to say that people who have Y are at risk for predicting cancer recurrence. Though, of course, it would be correctly understood anyway.

1 seems logically correct. In the process of predicting cancer recurrence, one treats Y as a risk factor.

But I agree with H Stephen Straight -- you're better off just saying what you mean. Y is a risk factor for cancer recurrence.

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Agree you more than H Stephen Straight - "for" sounds really off to me, for the reason you give. I think the underlying "sound" construction would be something like ""Y is a risk factor [to be taken into account] in the prediction of cancer recurrence"", but shorter more direct phrasing is to be preferred anyway. –  FumbleFingers Mar 13 '12 at 23:32

The phrase risk factor already implies statistical prediction. Can't you just say X is a risk factor for the recurrence of cancer? (For what it's worth for sounds better to me than in, but both are fully intelligible and acceptable, as far as I know.)

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I may be completely wrong about this, as this is just my intuitive feeling, but I suspect that 2 is the correct formulation, and that 1 is actually a corruption of the following:

"Y is a risk factor in predictions regarding cancer recurrence"

Or as FumbleFingers said,

"Y is a risk factor in the prediction of cancer recurrence"

It sounds to me like the speaker (or writer) just contracted "prediction of" into "predicting", which is the sort of mistake that gets made all the time when speaking. So, I believe that this is probably a technical mistake, but one made commonly enough that no-one will bat an eyelid if you treat it as correct. Sort of like ending a sentence with a preposition - I know it's wrong, but I still do it all the time! :p

Summary: The answer to your questions are Yes.

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