I am currently writing a technical report. While writing the "Related work" section, I often need to write expressions as shown in the title:

"The author means that this algorithm is not suitable in all cases.",

"The author writes that..." or

"The author points out", etc.

As I am not a native English speaker, I find it hard to vary my language. I know I saw a list of many possible ways of refering to something other people has said or written, but it was not in English and it would probably not be directly translateble.

I am so sorry if there exist another question about this. Please let me know in that case, but I don't know what keywords to search for in this case. What other ways are there of refering to something someone has written or found out in their work, and what is this way of referring called (what can I search for)?

  • I suggest taking a few of the words, in addition to those you already have, and looking up synonyms--e.g., for describes, expounds, covers, notes that, explains, takes the viewpoint, etc. – Xanne Apr 9 '17 at 1:54
  • @Xanne thank you alot, I can't believe I didn't think of that! – Stephen Johnson Apr 10 '17 at 8:44
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    I would avoid "the author means". It's fine to quote what the author says. Do that with "the author writes", "the author states", etc. If you employ minor paraphrasing, then "the author points out". But interpreting what the author meant is injecting your own opinion. You can do that in a discussion but not where you are simply citing the author. – fixer1234 May 16 '17 at 18:33

Sorry to point this out and you’ve got that completely the wrong way round. In that context, the last thing you should be doing is varying your language. As a reader, above all I want the editor or producer to be clear and consistent, not creative.

In the very unlikely event that you ever needed to write expressions as shown in the title, such as The author means or writes or points out, why would it not be obvious that variety, style, flair and the like belong to the author in the main text and not to the editors in any ‘related work’ section… by which, d’you mean bibliography, or what, please?

If that algorithm is not suitable in all cases and that’s what the author meant, fine and when making the same kind of reference to anything else in the same reference index, appendix or ‘related work’ section, why on Earth would you change the wording?

Changing the wording in those sections won't add interest but it will often cause confusion; all the readers knew it was an appendix or index whose only purpose was to impart detailed information as clearly as possible. They all expected it to be as dull as ditch water. No-one who had the stamina to be looking in an appendix or index in the first place would be put off by repetitive wording in consecutive entries… squarely so since it’s prolly true that a majority of readers won’t be looking at every entry so for them, it matters less.

  • The "related work" section in many computer science technical reports is not an appendix. It's not a bibliography. It is an important part of the main text, that explains how the technical results presented in the text compare with previous results; how they build on previous results; and how they are novel. It should not deliberately be written in a deadly dull style. While you should not sacrifice clarity in order to vary your language, there is lots of room for variation that doesn't sacrifice clarity. – Peter Shor May 16 '17 at 18:29

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