study on or study of ?

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  • swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    I would think of "on" and "of" as largely synonymous in this case, but I might tend to use "of" if the study aimed to determine what the risk factors are, and "on" if they are already known and the aim of the study is to investigate and quantify them.
     

    Snowman75

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    I would use "on" if talking about a formal study with carefully defined procedures and goals. I would use "of" in a less formal context.

    I'm trying to organise funding for a long-term study on the factors causing ...

    Our results will be meaningless without at least a brief study of the factors causing ...
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    An analytical study on/of the factors causing coronary artery disease among the citizens of City H.

    Please help me put a proper preposition.
    I would say it is definitely "of". You are studying the factors causing coronary artery disease, therefore, you are making a study of those factors. Here's another way of clarifying it:

    "An analytical study ___ the grammatical rules used in learning English"

    You are studying the rules. Hence, you are making a study of the rules, not on the rules
     

    swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    Ah, but a grammar rule is, I think, more simple than a heart disease risk factor. I would still say that a study on the factors is an attempt to find out more about them, while a study of them is an attempt to find out what they are. I think this is largely in agreement with Snowman75.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Ah, but a grammar rule is, I think, more simple than a heart disease risk factor. I would still say that a study on the factors is an attempt to find out more about them, while a study of them is an attempt to find out what they are. I think this is largely in agreement with Snowman75.
    I don't believe that it matters what the study is of - it is a study of something. In what other contexts would you use "study on"?
     

    Snowman75

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    Hence, you are making a study of the rules, not on the rules
    Granted, you might not be able to make a study on the rules:cross: , but I think you can conduct a study on the rules:tick: .

    The word "study" is being used in a different sense in each case. In the latter case you're talking about a formalised study, and I think the preposition "on" is appropriate, and to my ear preferable, in that situation.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Granted, you might not be able to make a study on the rules:cross: , but I think you can conduct a study on the rules:tick: .

    The word "study" is being used in a different sense in each case. In the latter case you're talking about a formalised study, and I think the preposition "on" is appropriate, and to my ear preferable, in that situation.
    In Dr. Appalayya's original sentence, a study of the factors leading to heart disease is being done. Whether I am "making"/"conducting"/"facilitating"/ the study, it is still a study of something.

    I'm uncertain what you mean by "the word study is being used in a different sense in each case". A study is a study is a study whether I'm in my attic garret studying the possibility of life on other planets or whether Dr. Appelayya's medical establishment is studying heart disease factors.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    An analytical study on/of the factors causing coronary artery disease among the citizens of City H.

    Please help me put choose a the proper preposition.
    The phrase "conduct a study on" is rather common, but I view it as a variation in grammar, not in meaning.

    I would choose "of" as standard, even for that phrase: "conduct a study of".

    Gaer
     

    Snowman75

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    In Dr. Appalayya's original sentence, a study of the factors leading to heart disease is being done. Whether I am "making"/"conducting"/"facilitating"/ the study, it is still a study of something.

    I'm uncertain what you mean by "the word study is being used in a different sense in each case". A study is a study is a study whether I'm in my attic garret studying the possibility of life on other planets or whether Dr. Appelayya's medical establishment is studying heart disease factors.
    I still disagree. And common usage seems to support my theory. I tried a google search on combinations involving the phrases "make a study" and "conduct a study":

    to conduct a study of: 281,000
    to conduct a study on: 161,000

    Here the use of the 2 prepositions is fairly evenly distributed.

    to make a study of: 77,900
    to make a study on: 767

    Here "of" is 100 times more prevalent. Clearly there is some difference between the phrases "conduct a study" and "make a study" which affects the choice of preposition. And it's not just the set phrase "conduct a study" which permits the use of "on". If you replace "conduct" with "perform" or "do" then you get similar results. The only logical conclusion I can draw is that the word "study" is be used in a different sense in different phrases. When it is used to refer to a formal program of research then it permits the use of the preposition "on", but at the same time it disallows the use of the verb "make".

    Of course I'd welcome any other theories to explain the discrepancy in usage.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I had never heard the expression 'a study on' until I saw your post.

    I always say/write 'a study of'.

    Googlefight gave these results:

    http://www.googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=%22a+study+of%22&word2=%22a+study+on%22

    I hope this helps.
    Googlefight is useless for comparisons of phrases because it does not put the phrases in quotes. The results are very misleading. It would be really cool if the site added a "quote" or "no quotes" toggle!

    Notice what happens when "do a study on/or" is changed to "study done on/of"

    Results 1 - 10 of about 21,600 for "study done of".
    Results 1 - 10 of about 159,000 for "study done on".

    And:

    Results 1 - 6 of about 8 for "in recent studies done on".
    Results 1 - 1 of 1 for "in recent studies done of".

    The verb definitely makes a difference. We may also be seeing an AE/BE split in usage. I don't sense a difference in meaning, only in usage or style.

    Gaer
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    If we're going to do Google research (always interesting if not scientific!), let's do it strictly on the words in contention ie:

    "study of" - 311 million
    "study on" - 66.9 million

    As I said, hardly scientific, but the preponderance of evidence points to "study of" being much more common. Not that this makes "study on" irrevocably incorrect but, for some reason, it appears that "study of" is much more frequently used.
     

    Snowman75

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    If we're going to do Google research (always interesting if not scientific!), let's do it strictly on the words in contention ie:

    "study of" - 311 million
    "study on" - 66.9 million

    As I said, hardly scientific, but the preponderance of evidence points to "study of" being much more common. Not that this makes "study on" irrevocably incorrect but, for some reason, it appears that "study of" is much more frequently used.
    No doubt "study of" is more common, but the point I've been trying to make is that the choice of preposition depends on the context and it might affect the meaning. If I arrange a google fight between "going to" and "going away from", "going to" wins by a factor of more than 1000 to 1. But that doesn't mean I can just ignore the 1 and use "going to" in every situation.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    If we're going to do Google research (always interesting if not scientific!), let's do it strictly on the words in contention ie:

    "study of" - 311 million
    "study on" - 66.9 million
    As two of us have said, it completely ignores different sentence structures by ignoring context.

    It ignores what comes before and what comes after.

    There is not enough information in your search.

    Gaer

    As I said, hardly scientific, but the preponderance of evidence points to "study of" being much more common. Not that this makes "study on" irrevocably incorrect but, for some reason, it appears that "study of" is much more frequently used.[/quote]
     

    Snowman75

    Senior Member
    Australia (English)
    I don't want to belabour the point, but as another example compare the frequency of "the study of" and "the study on". Here the former wins by a factor of 100 to 1. Of course that's because the former phrase captures things like "the study of peak oil", "the study of autism", "the study of language", etc. A very common pattern which uses a different sense of the word study than the one that started this thread.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It may be helpful to look below the numbers to the content. In the BNC listing of 182 examples of study on (study of has 5,179 examples) I find the following at the top of the list:
    (1) ... which are easier to study on a page.
    (2) ... to do a study on how effective regional assistance is, ...
    (3) ... choice of dates in a 1989 study on the market by ...
    (4) ... spent a great deal of time and study on it, ...
    (5) ... according to a small pilot study on its effects on mice.
    (6) ... that the ARC intended to conduct a study on land in Appalachia.
    (7) ... complete a study on the construction of ...
    (8) ... in the winter, the Green Study on the first floor ...
    (9) ... but a similar study on a smaller number of patients ...
    (10) . trying to focus in this study on those people ...

    Points from this list?
    Counting "study on" is including constructions that are not directly relevant to this topic.
    There are some examples where study of could be used in place of study on.
    There are other examples where study on seems to be right - I'm thinking in particular of (2) and (9) where study of sounds wrong.

    It's the same through the rest of the list.
     

    4356

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The name of a book by Fritz R. Stern is The politics of cultural despair: a study in the rise of the Germanic Ideology with its review beginning like This is a study in the pathology of cultural criticism.

    Why such a choice? English might not be Mr. Stern's native language but his book may well have been proofread.

    How would describe the sense?
     

    _Husby_

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain / Catalan
    What if we were talking about a certain book? For example, let's pretend that we have a book called "Hamlet: a study". Would we be referring to that as "a study on Hamlet" or "a study of Hamlet"? To my non-native ears the first one sounds better, but after reading the replies here I'm not sure any more.
     

    acme_54

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, I ended up here today because I'm changing "about" to "on" in an article I'm proofreading prior to publication in a scientific journal.
    To check the frequency of use, I ran a search for "a study ON consumer behaviour " and got 230,000 hits, while a similar search for "a study ABOUT consumer behaviour " got only 3840 results.
    So, I feel quite confident in using "on"in this context. However, in others, I might prefer "of", but I never usually analyse why, it's usually a gut feeling and as a native speaker of UK English, that's usually enough for me. And I'm rarely happy with "about"in academic papers when the authors use "a study about", as I feel it comes across as rather informal and a bit vague. That's all highly subjective of course, but it's my rule of thumb.
     
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