Research efforts in understanding the underlying mechanism have been ramped up over the past few years.

I came across this sentence in a published work and now I'm wondering if "efforts" shouldn't be followed by "on" or simply the infinitive form of understanding ("to understand").

Is it a special case because "understanding" also exists as a noun? I'm speculating that "in" is possible as long as "understanding" is not considered as gerund but as noun. Can anyone confirm?

Anyway, wouldn't it be more appropriate to use "on" or "towards" instead of "in"?

  • You seem correct as to why it's not incorrect. I also agree with your preference of using "understanding" as a goal rather than a continual state. – The Nate Feb 18 '19 at 19:53
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    if it's used as "the understanding", then it should be followed by an "of" anyway, shouldn't it? --> "Research efforts in understanding of the underlying mechanism…" – Ben Es Feb 24 '19 at 22:43

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