Online Program

Saturday, February 20
PS3 Poster Session 3 & Continental Breakfast sponsored by Capital One Sat, Feb 20, 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
Ballroom Foyer

Choosing English Terms to Describe Correlation and Causality in English (303280)

*Jocelyn T. Graf, Proficia 

Keywords: causality, correlation, research methods, communication, errors

Students of statistics learn early that the distinction between correlation and causation is important. Eventually researchers internalize that, although common sense might lead us to conclude in everyday life that two variables are likely to have a cause-effect relationship, most research methodologies can only identify a correlation. Nevertheless, many researchers continue to overuse the language of causality. In consulting with my clients, non-native speakers of English who are top academic researchers across the sciences, I have noted that they often are unclear about which English expressions actually denote a causal relationship. There are surprisingly many! This poster introduces a list of phrases for causality and another list for correlation, with a handout that provides sentence examples and tips for native- and non-native speakers of English alike to fine-tune the precision of how they describe the relationships among variables. Usage tips are based on a descriptive analysis of the search results of academic research databases, not simply from traditional grammar textbooks. Sample errors have been adapted from my clients’ errors to protect their anonymity.