I'm specifically asking about this question, but general advice is as always welcomed.

As pointed out in Fizz answer, what I refer to as "external factor" is called in the field "confounders", and my lengthy description of proposed study can be simply replace with "control study".

Now I'm wondering whether I should replace my made up definitions with the scientific ones and cut down on unnecessary explaining. I can see reasons to go either way:


  • The question becomes more concise, which means time to read and understand it becomes shorter (easier to read and understand)
  • There is no reason to create lengthy examples to illustrate idea, because terms used are already well understood (more focus on the actual question, instead of explaining the question)


  • There is no prior knowledge required to understand what is asked and reader can learn proper terms from the answer (opportunity to learn proper term)
  • I'd imagine people who don't know the answer to simple questions like this one also have no knowledge of scientific terms used in the field and are going to search for an answer using layman's terms (better discoverability)

If it were up to me, I'd be leaning towards editing and adding links to explanations of those terms, especially since I can imagine cutting down the question into no more than 3 sentences when using scientific terms, but I wanted to ask more experienced user what's their opinion.

Should I edit a basic question to use more scientific names, making it much more concise but at the same time harder to understand for people outside the field, who are more likely to not know the answer?

2 Answers 2


In short:

  • Questions should not be edited based on input received in answers.
  • Answers should not be used to ask for clarification and should limit the amount of inferences made from the question.
  • Questions should be updated to address comments which highlight ambiguities or things which are unclear (as a cohesive whole, not an 'edit' section).


  • The introduction of appropriate terminology constitutes part of the answer. Just like you, other people might not know the exact terminology to look for. But, they might rely on a similar description when searching for answers, in which case your question might show up in search results and, just like you, they will learn the appropriate terminology from the answer.
  • It is perfectly fine to have duplicate questions asking for the same terminology but using a slightly different phrasing. Such questions are likely to be closed as a duplicate of another question which provides a suitable answer. Having such duplicates is a good thing, as this caters to different searches on the internet finding an answer.
  • When you know you do not know the appropriate terminology, we encourage to make this explicit. We even have a specific tag for this. This gives an indication to anyone answering the question that introducing relevant terminology might suffice, after which you can then conduct your own further research.
  • Although your question might ask for specific terminology, it still needs to be based on 'some' unambiguous terminology you introduce, ideally properly referenced. We don't allow questions which aren't founded in any way, and such questions might be put on hold as 'not framed in psychology or neuroscience'.
  • Ambiguities and concepts introduced in questions which are unclear are pointed out through comments (or should be). Without addressing comments, it is unclear whether a provided answer would in fact answer the question, since some inferences need to be made which might not align with the intent of the question. Therefore, comments do need to be addressed in an update to the question (as a cohesive whole, as if the question were asked the first time around with the comments in mind, not in a separate 'edit' section).

I think the general layout is fine. When I read the question, I started with the title and skipped through to the concluding sentences with the question proper, omitting the middle part. Perfectly clear to me. I wouldn't change anything to the wording.


When I skipped back to the middle part to see whether it fits our site (I'm a mod after all :-) the real problem with this post has nothing to do with terminology, but with the fact it is a basic statistics question, namely how to interpret A correlated with B - what's next. A legitimate question, but not specifically for our forum. A better fitting question would be

Doe, J (1899) found in his study that more within-group empathy correlates significantly with a higher incidence and more aggressive inter-group violence. I wish to know whether inter-group aggression is a consequence of empathy within a group, or whether they just occur in parallel?

Now it is a stats question, but with a substantial Psych component in it. Your question, on the other hand, is a typical school-book stats interpretation issue of what correlation means, and that background knowledge about the topic is needed to infer meaning to correlation. In all, your question fits CrossValidated better imo.

  • I had the same thoughts, but decided that since the question relates to a problem specific to psychological studies, it's a good fit here. On the second though, as you made me realize, those are the same challenges researchers face in, for example, study of economics or politics. What should I do, if I were to move the question to CrossValidated? I feel I should redact the question beforehand to make it more broad rather than specifically asking about psychology (especially the initial sentence "Psychology is unique among other medical sciences...", which is demonstrably untrue). Jun 7, 2018 at 12:11
  • 1
    @ReverentLapwing - First and foremost, I would encourage you to search CrossValidated first whether a similar question has been asked before. As of now, your post is upvoted and answered here on our site, so I am reluctant to migrate it.
    – AliceD Mod
    Jun 7, 2018 at 12:22
  • I mostly agree with what you wrote. The psych-specific content of the question was low. The reason why I chose to answer it rather than deferring to stats.stackexchange.com (where I'm sure a similar question was answered at some point) is that the question fairly astutely observed that purely correlational (i.e. observational) studies are often found in psychology... and in fact is one of the reasons (but not only one) for the "replication crisis". Alas I forgot to get to this in my answer. Jun 11, 2018 at 2:18

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