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...

  • earlier comes to mind... – oerkelens Apr 14 '14 at 9:35
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    Many: google.com/search?q=preceding+synonyms - aforegoing, antecedent – mplungjan Apr 14 '14 at 9:39
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    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.

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  • 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

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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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