I'm writing a policy-relevant paper with policy recommendation. My supervisor (non-native in English) told me that I should not use a word 'should' for writing sentences for policy recommendation because the term is too strong in academic papers. An example of the sentence is like '..., the *** should be taken into account.' Do you have any suggestions for alternative words/phrases for 'should'?


The word "should" is not appropriate if you are recommending a policy action.

It is not, as you suggest, that it is too strong. It is too weak. The word does not carry the nuance of recommendation, only of opinion.

I would recommend that you use the word "recommend", as that is what you are doing.


I'm going to be simple here. Should is used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions or to indicate what is probable.

Use Thesaurus. com and search for the synonyms for 'Should'

Results: Could, might, would, shall, ought-to, may

I hope this helps.


I don't think this boils down to a simple question of word-choice; you should structure your writing so that you avoid overt dictates of this sort and use analytical forms to convince readers of the 'rightness' of your position. For example, instead of saying:

..., the *** should be taken into account.

it's better to say something more intellectually authoritative, like:

..., *** is an important factor; the presence of *** gives us insight into (yadda-yadda-yadda).

In other words, don't tell people what they should do; lay out that which is rational and effective, and allow people to decide for themselves whether they should do it. No one likes to be told what to do, but most people will respond to a good, reasonable argument.

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