Related question: Synonyms for “recently”

Word "Recent" (or similar variant) appears in many articles, publication, job posting and almost every documentation. To most people's understanding that usage of recent in an article (or anything) means something happened while the author was working on the article. In academic publication, it is pretty easy to find out what "recent" means as they do have a clear date of publication.

Given the following examples (Pardon the reference as everyone can edit in Wikipedia.)

Example 1 - Wikipedia Article - Dream under section "Other associated phenomena" , header "Incorporation of reality" , second paragraph.

The term "dream incorporation" is also used in research examining the degree to which preceding daytime events become elements of dreams. Recent studies suggest that events in the day immediately preceding, and those about a week before, have the most influence...”

The citation provided in that sentence (starting from Recent studies) is a study from 2003.

Example 2 - Artificial Intelligence, under Machine learning and statistics

In the 1990s, AI researchers developed sophisticated mathematical tools to solve specific subproblems. These tools are truly scientific, in the sense that their results are both measurable and verifiable, and they have been responsible for many of AI's recent successes...

From my understanding, this "recent" means successful AI from that point.

My question is: It is no doubt that any written record will get old very quickly, word "recent" may mean differently from time to time.

  1. While writing a written record, under what situation should I avoid the use of "recent" (Example 1)?
  2. How recent should be considered as recent (Example 2)?
  3. Is it better to provide a vague time period instead of using recent in writing?
  4. From many different articles I read on the internet, I noticed people have been using recent without even a date mentioned or providing citation. How should I interpret what time period does that "recent" refer to? (especially Wikipedia, it is extremely time-consuming to find out when is the word "recent" added)
  • 3
    It all depends on context. For a geologist, the human species only appeared recently on this planet, even though that happened a couple of million years ago. – oerkelens Jun 28 '17 at 7:45

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