What is the meaning of using parenthesis like (re)considering in academic writing?


Here's a question that has been bothering me for a while now but I haven't known where to ask because it seems like something I should already know and is therefore uncomfortable to ask about...hopefully I can get some inputs here. If it's too off-topic, happy for mods to delete.

I've noticed that using parenthesis in academic writing is becoming more common. It's really been bothering me that I see this all the time but I don't know where it originated from.

For example, sentences like "Respondents are (re)considering, (re)thinking and (re)negotiating their positions in the organisation" (NB: I just made this sentence up, it is not a quote, if it coincidentally reflects an actual piece of academic writing I was not aware of this at the time of posting)

1. I am not quite sure what is intended with the use of (re) in this kind of sentence. To me, putting something in parenthesis like this means "They are both considering AND reconsidering" they are "both thinking and rethinking". Is the use of parenthesis in cases like that just a short hand way of saying "X-ing but also Re-X-ing"?

2. Does it come from one particular school of thought, or is it just something we do?!

Would be interested to get some thoughts about this - is it just a short hand, or does it have some kind of history to it - did it arise out of some kind of 'moment' in academic writing?


I would take that to mean that respondents are considering things, and some respondents are considering them for the second or third time. Or like you said, some are both considering AND reconsidering.

I agree that's really strange. I haven't noticed it in anything that I've read.


I would also take it to mean that there are two possibilities at play, and that they may be both thinking and re-thinking, etc. I can't pinpoint this type of writing to an exact school of thought, but it strikes me that it would tie in with more interpretative approaches.


It's not necessarily great written English (might need to check that with a style guide), but I would view that kind of construct to be an OR, rather than an AND.

So in the specific example you give

Quote From ApolloBullit:

For example, sentences like "Respondents are (re)considering, (re)thinking and (re)negotiating their positions in the organisation"

I would interpret that as meaning that people are either considering OR reconsidering their positions etc. I would further interpret that as some people are considering this for the first time, others have considered it in the past and are now reconsidering it again.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for all the responses :-) Seems like it must just be a style thing. I see it so often now that I started to wonder if I had missed something important. I see it a lot in conference abstracts e.g. "(Re)considering Idea X"