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I am wondering which of the following sentences is more often used in English:

  1. The recent studies are deepened by investigating new problems.
  2. The recent studies are broadened by adding new problems.
  3. The recent studies are extended to include new problems.
  4. The recent studies are expanded to cover new problems.

In these sentences, the second verb and the preceding preposition can be changed; however, it should be chosen in such a way that the sentence is proper and readable.

Thanks for your help.

  • 2
    Notice that all of these sentences are using metaphorical verbs. There is no physical deepening, broadening, extending, or expanding of anything that has physical depth, breadth, extension, or expansion. So, asking which one to use is asking which metaphor is more appropriate, and that depends completely on the context and the intention of the speaker in that context. And frequency of use tells you nothing about the context or the intention, so it's not what you need to look for. – John Lawler Aug 9 '15 at 19:21
  • @JohnLawler The context is obviously scientific and the intention of the speaker is roughly stated in all of the sentences; however, the matter is that which one conveys the intention better? – Sara Winslet Aug 9 '15 at 19:29
  • The "intention" is quite unclear out of context. Some amplification of something is signalled, but it's all handwaving without something specific to tie the metaphor to. And "roughly stating" is rarely appropriate in scientific prose. If you have numbers and results, state them; if not, opinions are not useful. – John Lawler Aug 9 '15 at 19:34
  • 'The context is obviously scientific' is choosing inappropriate (over-broad) contextual bounds. It is also erroneous (the sentences could apply to studies in many disciplines). A study is broadened by looking at further examples, obtaining additional data, but deepened by employing better analytical tools, not necessarily with any fresh data. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 9 '15 at 23:34
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First, I'm slightly uncomfortable with all of these options: "The recent studies are [changed] by [tackling] new problems". Well, no. The recent studies are what they are, and tackling new problems will not change them. I suppose it could be argued that the new work will enter the corpus of "recent studies", and hence change that corpus, but this is an unusual way to present new work. Unfortunately, I'm struggling to find a better framework without more context. Maybe something like: "This technique has been extended/broadened/etc by...".

As John Lawler has pointed out in comments, the different verbs have different meanings. So, "deepened" might be appropriate if the new problems are very similar to the previous problems, but somehow more difficult or intricate. "Broadened" is probably more common, when the new problems are related to the previous ones, and perhaps of similar difficulty, but with new aspects. "Extended" is similar to "broadened", but gives more of an air of progress into new territory. "Expanded" is also similar, but gives an air of making the technique more general.

If I had to pick one, I would probably choose "extended". ("Expanded" would be a close contender if the original technique was highly specialised and the new work helped to make it more general.) This is mainly personal preference, and also dependent on the nature of these new studies, so I have no references to cite. I have not attempted to answer the question of which is more common. You could try Google Ngram for that.

  • Thanks for your help, your second paragraph was really helpful. – Sara Winslet Aug 9 '15 at 21:17
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I prefer a 5th choice, i.e.:

  1. The recent studies are further developed to cover/investigate new problems.
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May I suggest a couple of alternatives:

The recent studies are (being)/(will be)/(can be) enhanced by investigating new problems.

or

The recent studies are (being)/(will be)/(can be) augmented by investigating new problems.

or

The recent studies are (being)/(will be)/(can be) expanded on by investigating new problems.

or

The recent studies are (being)/(will be)/(can be) broadened by investigating new problems.

or

The recent studies are (being)/(will be)/(can be) supplemented by investigating new problems.

or

The recent studies are (being)/(will be)/(can be) bolstered by investigating new problems.

Definitions of these words provided by Google:

enhance intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of.

augment make (something) greater by adding to it; increase.

expand (on) give a fuller version or account of.

broaden expand to encompass more people, ideas, or things.

supplement add an extra element or amount to.

bolster support or strengthen; prop up.

If you need to convey the idea that the studies will simply include more things that will be covered, I would go with broadened or expanded on. If you need to convey the idea that the quality of the studies will be increased by this inclusion of more things that will be covered, I would choose a different word.

  • The intention is to convey the idea that the studies include more thing. In fact, a group of scientists have done further studies which includes more cases lacking in former studies. Or perhaps, they added new theories and results to the former studies. – Sara Winslet Aug 9 '15 at 21:25
  • Sorry, I missed that you already had the word broadened in your original question. Yes, I probably would go with broadened (and it was suggested in another answer). However, I think that you should use the present perfect, because the information that you give is relevant to the present time, but the action is already completed (you say it yourself, "a group of scientists have done further studies"): The recent studies have been broadened by including the research of new problems. – Siegfried Zaytsev Aug 9 '15 at 21:47

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