3

I see this phrase being used often by non-native speakers, and it never fails to strike me as incorrect:

"In this research, [...]" 

I also note that Wiktionary and Merriam-Webster consider that usage correct, but "rare" and "formal + old-fashioned". This Quora question has a comment that says that it is restricted to British English, too, but there are no sources for this. Searching for occurrences of this usage on Google is hard, because "researches" could also be the verb, and "a research" is usually followed by "paper" or "group".

So, is research as a countable noun really used by native speakers, or has it already fallen out of usage and is only kept alive by awkward translations?

  • 2
    In your quote, research is an abstract mass noun, and perfectly normal. A countable example would be "In these researches"; "I did a number of researches" (which does sound distinctly odd, formal and old-fashioned). – Andrew Leach Nov 12 '15 at 7:07
  • Yes it is, and it is a common expression in wring too: books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Nov 12 '15 at 7:07
  • @Josh61 But look what happens when you change the target to in these researches – WS2 Nov 12 '15 at 7:19
  • In the plural it is an expression that I hear in sentences like "recent researches on Mediaeval History/cancer/the theory of etc.," so in formal contexts. books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Nov 12 '15 at 7:27
  • Your example In this research is probably not the best one, because it could be either countable, or uncountable. Perhaps you want to write In these researches? – Araucaria Nov 12 '15 at 8:13
3

When you want to refer to a non-specific general study as "research", it doesn't need to be pluralized as the word "research" itself can mean it as an abstract noun.

When it is difficult to find usages for a word which can be used as "noun" and "verb" at the same time such as "research", you could consider searching it as a "subject" in a passive sentence:

"research has been done" vs "researches have been done" in Ngram Viewer.

enter image description here

There could be a situation where more than one piece of research has been done. For example, "A research" using monkeys as a guinea pig, "B research" using mice, "C research" using pigs. Then, the mass noun "research" is pluralized in:

These three researches have shown that the medicine is safe for a test on human.

or

All research has shown that the medicine is safe for a test on human.

In the second example, you don't need to pluralize "research" as the usage of "researches" indicates below.

enter image description here

You could consider using "piece of" to express the number of researches, but using "3 pieces of research" in the above second example doesn't seem to be ideal as it is not concise and you can pluralize "research".

enter image description here

You could see the plural form is rarely used in "the research on" vs "the researches on"

enter image description here

  • While this answer contains useful tips on using Ngram viewer to answer this question, I feel like it does not really answer it, so I hesitate to accept. – FvD Nov 17 '15 at 15:00

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