What is better to write?

  1. that my results are not reproducible

  2. that my results are unreproducible

How can it be re-written as positive affirmation (preserving the same meaning)?

Do not I remember correctly that it is better to write negative sentence than positive but much more lengthy? This question is about technical copywriting.

Update: When I was writing the question, I did not account for the fact that there are 4 "synonyms":

  • non-reproducible,
  • unreproducible,
  • irreproducible,
  • not reproducible

the post with this phrase that provoked this question

  • "It won't happen again"? :)
    – Benjol
    Feb 3, 2011 at 9:31
  • 5
    What do you mean by positive affirmation? (Somehow, I'm reminded of Dave Barry: 'WRITING TIP FOR PROFESSIONALS: To make your writing more appealing to the reader, avoid “writing negatively.” Use positive expressions instead. WRONG: “Do not use this appliance in the bathtub.” RIGHT: “Go ahead and use this appliance in the bathtub.”') Feb 3, 2011 at 9:32
  • This is strange that I did not read but remember it. That's why I asked how to re-write it in positive Feb 4, 2011 at 3:12
  • 1
    As I suggested below, "singular" is the most accurate answer given that you want a "positive affirmation". Singular has connotations so you must also elaborate.
    – H2ONaCl
    Feb 4, 2011 at 11:59
  • 1
    I read the page you linked. I see no reason to stop using "unreproducible".
    – H2ONaCl
    Feb 6, 2011 at 6:18

4 Answers 4


I would usually say not reproducible, and if I wanted to use a single word I would always use irreproducible rather than unreproducible.


First part: “not reproducible” seems to be widely more used than “unreproducible”. I checked this on Google, the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the British National Corpus, and a Google search restricted to a scientific publisher website (American Chemical Society, acs.org).

Second part: it's hard to say something this negative with a very positive tone. One way to make it more positive is to hint at possible reasons why you could not reproduce the results, e.g., “my results could not, under the time available, be reproduced”.

  • 2
    Check "irreproducible". :)
    – chaos
    Feb 3, 2011 at 15:59
  • @chaos, does not "irreproducible" have the connotation of well-established and commonly accepted inner quality? rather than something probed/questioned? Feb 4, 2011 at 3:17
  • @vgv8: No. I've never encountered the connotation you speak of with it. It just means not reproducible (the ir- prefix being preferred to un- in the same way that we say impossible rather than unpossible).
    – chaos
    Feb 4, 2011 at 3:25
  • @FX_, thanks, I did re-read it few times, yesterday and today. Thanks for your time! It was unexpected that "not reproducible" sounds better, I was inclined to think and use vice versa. I updated my question after studying your answer. Feb 5, 2011 at 8:53
  • Question: does the asker want a positive tone, or just to eliminate the negative terms (un-, irr-, not-, etc).
    – H2ONaCl
    Feb 6, 2011 at 6:11

that my results are non-reproducible

Both the prefixes un- and non- have the same meaning, but they are used with different perspectives.

In a note, the NOAD reports that

The prefix un- tends to be stronger and less neutral than non-. Consider, for example, the differences between unacademic and nonacademic, as in his language was refreshingly unacademic, and a nonacademic life suits him.


It is unclear what context the original poster is considering, but it should be mentioned that both examples given have a strong implication that the results are, in principle, incapable of being reproduced.

A "positive alternative" without this implication would be something like "the results have not yet been reproduced" or "my colleague was not able to reproduce the results"


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