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Are both these usages correct, and if so, is one preferred?

  • ... and was further established in follow-up studies (e.g., Doe et al., 2013).
  • ... and was further established by follow-up studies (e.g., Doe et al., 2013).

The intent is that the follow-up studies helped to confirm/establish the original premise. I am uncertain if "in" or "by" is more appropriate. I personally think both are fine, but I am far from an expert in English and may be overlooking an important nuance.

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    I think you are not asking whether something is “grammatically correct”.
    – tchrist
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:29
  • I removed "grammatically correct" as the phrase is incorrect. I am asking if both usages are correct, and if so, should one be preferred over the other.
    – Rider_X
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:38

1 Answer 1

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While both forms are grammatically correct, by my estimation, in an academic paper I would go with "by" in a sentence like that.

Unfortunately, I can't give you so much as a reason why. I can come up with various arguments why I would use that instead, but they don't sound particularly convincing even in my own mind. I guess I could just put it down to seeing that phrasing used more in academic papers (which I write fairly often and read even more often).

As a test, I gave a google search for "established by studies" and "established in studies", and added filetype:pdf - which has a greater chance of yielding complete peer reviewed papers, and is in my experience a more reliable way of getting peer reviewed stuff than Google Scholar, but I digress.

The results were close:

established in studies filetype:pdf

About 74,300,000 results (0.38 seconds)


established by studies filetype:pdf

About 74,600,000 results (0.37 seconds)

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    Good idea on the google search, although you should add quotes around that word usage or google uses an OR operator between each term (e.g., "'established by studies' filetype:pdf"). I redid your queries in scholar.google.com (without the 'filetype:pdf' filter) and found 3,480 results in favour of the "in" usage and 2,560 in favour of the "by" usage.
    – Rider_X
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:46
  • Crud, how could I forget the quotes >.< Redid the search too, and yep, same frequencies appear. Well damn, maybe "in" is more often used after all.
    – Corina
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:49

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