I looked up the synonym for previous up in the dictionary, and found

preceding, former, earlier, etc.

Are there other synonyms for this word which can be used in writing a scientific paper? For example: In the previous studies...

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  • earlier comes to mind... – oerkelens Apr 14 '14 at 9:35
  • 2
    Many: google.com/search?q=preceding+synonyms - aforegoing, antecedent – mplungjan Apr 14 '14 at 9:39
  • 1
    Journal articles, especially scientific literature, isn't the best place to try out new descriptive writing. There's kind of a tried and true method of communicating things. That's part of their readability. – anongoodnurse Apr 14 '14 at 10:08
  • ...Yes. I hope mplungian's 'aforegoing' is meant as a joke. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 14 '14 at 12:06
  • Since you can't write about papers that are not previous, or former, the word adds nothing. Just name the studies. Or say studies. – Oldcat Apr 14 '14 at 17:04

Former and ex- don't work in relation to scientific papers. Previous and earlier are both good; preceding would also work in the narrower context of a study leading up to the one currently being focused on.

For example:

In 2000, John Masterson showed that rats fed a diet of marijuana consistently preferred to drink single-malt Scotch whisky, whereas his preceding 1998 study demonstrated that coca-fed rats had a preference for blended American rye.

Lists of synonyms taken from a thesaurus must be approached cautiously, because few words that are described as synonyms can be used interchangeably. If you have no educated native speaker to guide you, the next-best approach is to Google the individual words in the list to get a feel for how they are being used in the context of the online text segments in which they occur.

  • I must have missed the 1998 study. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 14 '14 at 12:09
  • As well as prior – bib Apr 14 '14 at 12:50
  • @bib Agreed. I overlooked that one. – Erik Kowal Apr 14 '14 at 18:00

you can have these terms as synonyms for "previous"

earlier, past, prior, former, erstwhile, antecedent, ex, precedent


Depending on what is actually meant here by "previous," you also might want to consider "aforementioned," and "afore."

Afore: before: aforementioned.

Would you accept the afore figures as accurate without any additional information being given? Answer Yes or No and explain the basis for your view.

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