Hedging language in giving review

Writing Tips >> Hedging language in giving review

Hedging is a way to express a level of confidence in an idea by changing its certainty or strength. When writing, you should remember readers will be able to disagree with you and may become upset if they strongly disagree. Thinking about your reader’s response to your ideas often calls for tentative language, which is a cautious style of writing.

How confident are you that these ideas are true?

Hybrid models combine the strengths of individual models. Interaction between cells is determined by location.
Data reliability increases with sample size. Methodological analyses are based on many false premises.


All of these ideas are expressed as facts but obviously some are less certain than others, and all of them have counter opinions, so it necessary to hedge by using tentative language:

It is widely assumed that hybrid models can combine the strengths of individual models.

Data reliability is expected to increase with sample size.

Interaction between cells is arguably determined by location.

Methodological analyses may be based on a few potentially false premises.


Peer Review

Hedging and cautious language are especially important when commenting on other people’s work, such as a peer review. Here are some examples of how you can use tentative language when you need to communicate a negative message in a peer review. You do not need to be tentative when you want to be positive.

It will be…   It might be…/ It may be…. / It could be….. modal verbs reduce certainty
You must/ should   You could…/ It might be a good idea to…. modal verbs reduce strength
It is definitely   Perhaps it is / It probably is adverbs reduce certainty
..very confused..   a little / quite / rather / somewhat confused adverbs reduce strength
It is certain   It is likely / It is expected / It is assumed that adjectives reduce certainty
This is unreliable   I’m not sure this is reliable/This is not as reliable as expected. adjectives reduce strength
There is no doubt   This indicates/suggests…/ As far as I know,… phrases reduce certainty

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