I wonder if one can use the word guess in a scientific paper in the following context:

"... to provide the best guess on answer response time ..."

Would the usage of prediction or estimate be more appropriate in this context?

Also, the sentence where the guess is used is in the introduction which is aimed to be read by people without much knowledge on the subject but with background in science and, probably, a PhD degree.

Thank you.

  • Why not "hypothesize"? "to provide the best hypothesis to..."
    – Sos
    Apr 24 '15 at 15:03
  • 2
    Depends, are you guessing or something else?
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 24 '15 at 15:08
  • I think "hypothesize" would be less appropriate since it's on a weeker side from my point of view. As I understand, hypothesis is an explanation of a phenomenon which cannot be explained with the currently available or known scientific theories. On the contrary, prediction and estimate are assumed to be based on some theory, I guess. I would agree that guess is not a good word for science though. Apr 24 '15 at 15:21
  • 1
    the problem is that guess seems like it isn't based on anything other than the authors' guessing. It sounds like it doesn't have any grounds to stand. On the contrary, estimate should have more grounds. When you hypothesize you are giving a potential answer to something based on something else. But I guess what we are missing in here is a bit more of context. For instance, are you trying to come up with some potential explanation for something you already know? or are you trying to predict what will happen?
    – Sos
    Apr 24 '15 at 15:28
  • 1
    Yes, scientists never "guess" -- they "hypothesize" or "estimate".
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 24 '15 at 18:34

It's not too welcome, IMO.

At Google Books, one can test the waters injecting relevant extra words in the search, say "dissertation," which limits the search environment to publications containing "dissertation":

"provide the best guess" "dissertation" About 0 results

"provide the best estimate" "dissertation" About 9 results

  • 1
    if you include results from Google Scholar it's probably more helpful. 5,550 for your sentence with "estimate", 101 for "guess"
    – Sos
    Apr 24 '15 at 15:30

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