1

Contrast:

In order to develop a relationship between the energy spectra and their corresponding Fourier transforms...

with

In order to develop a relationship between the energy spectra and the Fourier transforms corresponding to these spectra

The first, in my opinion, sounds much smoother and more natural. But I'm using a possessive personal pronounce with "spectra". Is this allowed in a formal document like a research article?

...or is there a better option?

closed as off-topic by Kris, Kristina Lopez, choster, MrHen, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Oct 23 '13 at 15:37

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified." – Kristina Lopez, choster, MrHen, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Their can be legitimately used for any plural noun. They: "used to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified." (emphasis mine) – Kris Oct 23 '13 at 6:17
  • I don't think you should go sleepless over this. Choose whichever one and then proceed to sleep soundly at night. – Blessed Geek Oct 23 '13 at 9:10
3

If you are concerned about using a "personal" possessive determiner for something which is not a person, don't be.

their determiner
1 belonging to or associated with the people or things previously mentioned or easily identified:
parents keen to help their children

[ODO] (my emphasis)

Note that it isn't a possessive pronoun: a pronoun is a word which stands for a noun, and a possessive pronoun is a word like mine, yours, theirs:

That car is my car
That car is mine (where mine is a possessive pronoun standing for car)

  • The issue of the personal and the possessive is secondary or actually, incidental, to the question. :) – Kris Oct 23 '13 at 6:15
  • @Kris I don't understand your comment; the question is entirely about their which the OP mistakenly assumes is personal and a pronoun. – Andrew Leach Oct 23 '13 at 6:27
  • The OP was presumably told that personal pronouns should not be used in scientific papers. This is incorrect; the person who told him this presumably meant that personal pronouns referring to the authors should not be used in scientific papers. While I would disagree with this, there are definitely some fields and journals for which this is the custom. – Peter Shor Oct 23 '13 at 13:56

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