Comparisons

Comparisons are frequently made in the Results section of papers. These often involve the words “between,” “among,” “like,” “with,” and “than.”

When making a comparison, the following points should be adhered to:


1. Only compare similar things that can be compared fairly

Examples:

BAD: The brain activity in Patient A was compared with Patient B.
GOOD: The brain activity in Patient A was compared with that of Patient B.

It doesn’t make sense to compare brain activity with a person. Instead, we need to compare like with like – that is, brain activity in Patient A with brain activity in Patient B.

GOOD: Expression levels of p53 in smokers were compared with p53 levels in non-smokers.
BETTER: Expression levels of p53 in smokers were compared with those in non-smokers.

Here "those" means "expression levels of p53." It’s best not to repeat the same words in a sentence, since it can bore readers.


2. Avoid being vague – be as specific as possible

Example:

BAD: Reactions with the new machine were faster.

GOOD: Reactions with the new machine were faster than those with the old machine.
The first sentence makes the reader wonder "Faster than what?"


3. Words such as “reduced,” “increased,” and “decreased” can only be used to compare something to the way it was before, not to compare two different things. To compare two different things (e.g., groups of patients), use words such as “higher,” “shorter,” or “more”

Example:

BAD: In our study, time until hibernation was reduced in the Experimental Group compared with the Control Group.
GOOD: In our study, time until hibernation was shorter in the Experimental Group than in the Control Group.

"Reduced" cannot be used to compare two different things; the Experimental Group and the Control Group


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