I am writing an academic paper on a study. The study states that their research was conducted in various months throughout the year (Sept, Oct, Jan, Apr, etc.). Can I say the following:

Morse and Neuberg conducted a study involving numerous participants over the span of four months.

Does "over the span of" have to refer to consecutive months?

Note: I cannot say throughout because the months are not in a stated time span (i.e. 2012-2013).

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, Gnawme, Kris, choster Sep 25 '13 at 14:25

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  • 2
    Did you not look up span in the dictionary? The extent or measure of space between two points or extremities, as of a bridge or roof; the breadth. I think it's General Reference that a metaphoric spatial/temporal usage doesn't change the basic meaning of the word. – FumbleFingers Sep 25 '13 at 1:10
  • 1
    Yes. Row-span, column-span, time-span denote consecutiveness. – Blessed Geek Sep 25 '13 at 1:36
  • As FumbleFingers noted, span is the "spread between two limits." Which says nothing about whether anything is consecutive between those limits. – Gnawme Sep 25 '13 at 3:28
  • @Gnawme Spread across has necessarily to encompass everything in between, no matter what. So does span. – Kris Sep 25 '13 at 6:00

"Over the span of four months" implies that those months were consecutive. The "span" of the study would include all the time between the first gathering of research to the last gathering of research. A more accurate approach would state the exact times of the research ("The team conducted research in Sept, Oct, Jan, and Apr of 2012-13"), although if the exact timing doesn't pertain to the findings it might be best to leave out the months altogether and simply state that the researchers conducted their study in "various sessions from 2012-2013."

  • Right. But that's general reference. :) – Kris Sep 25 '13 at 5:59

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