I am writing a scientific paper and am unsure if I should be using "mean" or "mean of" each time I refer to a calculated mean number.

For example, should it be:

A) The samples had a mean of 54.1 reads

B) The samples had a mean 54.1 reads

Or how about:

C) A mean of 54.1 reads were generated

D) A mean 54.1 reads were generated

After reading through a few scientific articles it looks like both are used, but is one more correct or preferred? Does it change the meaning?

Thank you for your help.

  • 3
    To me (British English) "a mean of 54.1 reads" looks, reads, and sounds better.
    – Greybeard
    May 5, 2020 at 19:52
  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because the examples are all very poor, to the extent that the posted question can't be answered. The Q also lacks context and evidence of effort. While not the intent of the question, it amounts to proofreading/writing advice since the sentences need to be rewritten.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 6, 2020 at 0:59

1 Answer 1


Mean of is idiomatic in the scientific literature, as are value of, mass of, weight of, length of, duration of, etc.

No one would use your C) and D) in a scientific paper. You didn't generate the mean. Rather, you generated (that is, made or conducted) a set of observations, and you then calculated the mean of the values of the resulting set, which happened to be 54.1 reads. You wouldn't a priori generate a set with a mean of 54.1 reads.

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