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I can’t find the appropriate term to express something that one can try in order to fix a problem, but that is not guaranteed to work and might even lead to wasting resources.

The word “solution” seems inappropriate since it entails that what I will try is going to work. It has a positive connotation I believe.

Here is an example sentence with a context for the word I am looking for:

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on unfruitful (insert a replacement for the word “solutions” here).

In this example, even the word “unfruitful” seems a bit awkward to use in a formal context.

I am looking for a word preferably used in scientific journals and other academic publications.

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    To avoid wasting money on lower probability approaches... – Jim Sep 29 '16 at 19:34
  • 2
    How about 'attempts'?! – user58319 Sep 29 '16 at 19:37
  • as @user58319 mentioned, "solution attempt" is used in academic paper see scholar.google.fr/… – P. O. Sep 29 '16 at 19:51
  • I was not convinced with the word "attempt" alone as a replacement. However, combining it with the word "solution" seems to work and apparently, from the link you sent, it is used in academic papers. I was hoping for a one word obscure yet popular replacement but I guess this would work too – Imlerith Sep 29 '16 at 20:04
  • An attempt is something you make. It’s not an attempt until you attempt it. An approach, on the other hand, can be contemplated and discarded and itls still an approach. – Jim Sep 29 '16 at 20:48
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You should check edeavour/endeavor.

I have taken the liberty of changing a couple of other words too in your example.

Methodology X was adopted in order to avoid wasting resources on unpromising endeavors.

ODO:

endeavour (US endeavor)

NOUN

1 An attempt to achieve a goal.

[WITH INFINITIVE] ‘an endeavour to reduce serious injury’

‘He has also opposed endeavors to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.’

‘The group standards mechanism in the bill will reduce compliance costs, and it is an endeavour to reduce those costs.’

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I am going to start by dropping unfruitful. How about one of the following:

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on possible solutions

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on potential solutions.

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on proposed solutions.

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on plausible solutions.

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on trial solutions.

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on uncertain solutions.

Each of the suggested adjectives (there are other possibilities) carries some degree of uncertainty, with some implying more uncertainty than others. You could take your pick based on the degree of uncertainty acceptable in your context.

"Uncertain solutions" may be a good bet. Uncertain works better in a formal context that unfruitful.

If you want to keep unfruitful, you might want to consider reordering the words as follows:

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on potentially unfruitful approaches.

Of course, there are other possibilities if you want to take the unfruitful approach.

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the word 'Option' is a good fit here:

Methodology X was done in order to avoid wasting resources on unfruitful options

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