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The scenario is that I am replying to an email from a colleague requesting statistics from a database. I am wanting to say that the results are of the same 'query' that was run the last time (and all previous times - a dozen or so).

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQL#Queries for the technical meaning of 'query' in this context.

I want to say "Attached are the results of|in the usual [insert word or phrase]"

The literal synonyms for "query" are well wide of the mark. I want the word or phrase to be non-technical. Format/arrangement/layout/etc. implies the presentation of the data rather than what data was selected.

Alternative arrangements to the entire sentence are less preferable but welcome suggestions nonetheless if they are necessary to solve the conundrum.

Bonus points (if I could) for a better word than "usual" considering how often the query has been used before: "customary" and "traditional" are worse.

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    a repeated search? – meuh Jun 30 '15 at 15:56
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    Attached are the results of the data search, using the criteria we normally(or always) use. – hatchet Jun 30 '15 at 21:29
  • Any reason "query" is unsuitable? I realise it has a specific technical meaning in the context of databases (e.g. SQL), but it seems it can also be used less formally to achieve the same broader (less technically specific) meaning. – Bruno Jun 30 '15 at 23:12
  • @Bruno To a layman, 'query' is just a formal way of saying 'question'. I don't think it will evoke the meaning that is intended: i.e. data selection parameters (utilizing some of the answers given). – Avon Jul 1 '15 at 8:10
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I would expect your colleague to understand that the same "parameters" were used to produce the data set each time.

Parameter - from MW-O:

2: any of a set of physical properties whose values determine the characteristics or behavior of something

In your example, the "set of physical properties" (the parameters) would be the specifics of the query that were used to select and filter the data.

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    Good suggestion. Might well get the tick. – Avon Jun 30 '15 at 16:15
  • Part of the problem with this is that you could potentially use a different query with the same parameters. (Without specifying, "query" could mean query with fixed or variable parameters.) – Bruno Jul 1 '15 at 0:02
  • @Bruno That is indeed a problem with using 'parameters'. Technically speaking the parameters are the only thing that has changed (is not the usual...) – Avon Jul 1 '15 at 8:23
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    That said, I think the normal meaning of the word is most apt here to get the message across to a layman so gets the tick. Thank you Kristina. – Avon Jul 2 '15 at 13:30
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It seems to me that you want to reassure your reader that the results are exactly comparable to, and just as valid as, the statistics that the reader has received previously. It's probably irrelevant whether you ran the same query, ran the same procedure that extracts lots of data and then processes it to make statistics, or followed the same manual steps to do so by hand. The point is that the process was identical, and the results are reliably comparable.

Therefore, I'd suggest something like:

... produced using our standard method for these statistics.

or

... produced using my standard These-Statistics tool.

"Standard" gives a sense of stability and implies that it's what you've always used. "Method," "tool," or even "process" says what was standard - the way you got the statistics. Naming the method/process/tool after the results it produces ("These Statistics tool") would be especially useful, since in the future, you can refer to this name to refer specifically to this process and not have to refer to generic descriptions.

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    Thank you for your input Isaac. You are absolutely correct about the irrelevance of the process that arrived at the data. "Standard" is good for the bonus points. I do like that. Naming after the tool is probably not appropriate: That name is also quite technical and it can produce an infinite variety of different data queries. – Avon Jun 30 '15 at 15:16
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OneLook is a website that links to several dictionaries, including specialized dictionaries. I decided to start looking there.

OneLook returned 10 hits for computing dictionaries, including this one, from the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC):

query A user's (or agent's) request for information, generally as a formal request to a database or search engine.

So, with that as inspiration, we might say:

Attached are the results from the usual information request.

Another way we could say this (and avoid the word usual) might be:

The results are attached. All of these results were generated from the same retrieval request.

The word retrieval was inspired by the entry at the Database Glossary, which I also found via OneLook:

Query Definition: Queries are the primary mechanism for retrieving information from a database and consist of questions presented to the database in a predefined format.

  • That's a nice approach (and useful links) and I quite like the results. Thank you JR – Avon Jun 30 '15 at 17:04
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    Not to get too nitpicky here but if the OP felt that their colleague might not fully understand what a "query" represented, I'm not sure that "retrieval request" or even possibly "information request" might be well understood. It's not necessarily a technical word or concept that will fill this request as much as a word that spans the gap between IT and end user, IMO. – Kristina Lopez Jun 30 '15 at 17:21
  • @Kristina - Maybe I've been in IT too long. I didn't think request was too technical, but we often become inured to how confusing these terms can be. (As a side note, one reason I offered this answer was because I thought parameters sounded too technical – funny how that works sometimes!) – J.R. Jun 30 '15 at 20:52
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    Lol @J.R. I work in a technical support role and firmly believe that sometimes only sock puppets can communicate adequately for me. – Kristina Lopez Jun 30 '15 at 21:55
  • @KristinaLopez and JR. It is tricky. Perhaps I should just draw a picture. – Avon Jul 1 '15 at 8:25
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This dataset was produced using the same selection criteria we have been using all along.

  • Thank you Tim. That is sounding a little too technical for me. Not jargon like "query" but still a bit too much. Quite valid and better than anything I started with though. – Avon Jun 30 '15 at 17:08
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Dip. We do a database dip to get the corresponding name.

  • I like the word for this use. However, in this instance I think it would be less well understood than 'query' but that's a pity. Maybe I should just use it and hope they ask what I mean by it :) – Avon Jun 30 '15 at 17:16
  • I build and deal quite a bit with databases, and I’d never heard this before. I think it’s safe to say a non-technical reader would be quite flummoxed if they read something like “produced using our standard dips”. (Personally, I’d be wondering if I was about to be served crisps.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 30 '15 at 20:33
  • database dips in use – Ron Royston Jun 30 '15 at 21:02
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At times like these I often find it helps to restructure the sentence entirely. You're not happy with using the perfectly accurate 'query', and many of the synonyms are either unsuitable or still too formal. The key information that you're trying to convey is that you have the requisite 'dataset' from the correct 'database', and that it was procured in a consistent way. Consider simply: "Here is the result of the regular search criteria". Or "This is the data from the typical database search" depending on your colleague's technical literacy.

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If selection criteria is too techy, how about search terms or search criteria? Search might not be quite the right word for a database, but search terms are something that everyone should be familiar with from googling.

  • Search terms is good. Thank you. I want the word/phrase to denote what was selected (the fields and aggregates) as much as the filters, and search terms only indicates the latter but your answer would indeed be familiar to anyone who uses a computer and indicate much of what is meant. – Avon Jul 1 '15 at 8:16
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I would consider query to be suitable for a non-technical audience, provided you don't get into the details of the query implementation.

However, if you're looking for something less technical, I would simply use operation:

Attached are the results of the usual operation [on the dataset].

You could also add "with the same/usual parameters". It's not clear from your question what may have varied: you could potentially have a different dataset, a different query (although obviously here you want it to be the same) or a different set of parameters for that query (for example, a different date), so it might be useful to make it clear what changed and what didn't.

You might also be able to use process, but this has the downside of being a technical term too (which would generally not be suitable in this case). When replacing technical terms for a non-technical audience, I prefer avoiding terms that may collide with technical terms taken out of context, which would confuse a technical audience in this case.


Another way to use "process" more neutrally is not to use it as a noun. For example, like this:

We've processed the data in the same way as [usual/we've done in the past], using the new dates. Here are the results.

  • Operation is better than query. Thank you Bruno. It is the parameters (technically speaking) that have changed (as you guess, the dates). In this context the new dates are a given: that was the request. Process is better still I think. I don't think there would be any danger of it being mixed-up with a CPU/memory process by a tech-savvy reader. But your point of being careful in that respect is a wise one. – Avon Jul 1 '15 at 8:21

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