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I read a sentence in "The Hindu" which was:

The IAF, which had tracked the work of Houston-based senior scientist Kumar Krishen's work for nearly three years, finally roped in after he quit NASA in September 2018. Does "track work of somebody's work" here mean "note the progress" of or is it an error?

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As written, it is almost certainly an error, because it makes no sense to "track the work of somebody's work".

To "track someone's work" in this context means to closely observe or monitor their work over a period of time, and it is a valid and commonly used phrase. Either of the following would be correct ways to use the phrase in the example sentence:

  • "The IAF, which had tracked the work of Houston-based senior scientist Kumar Krishen for nearly three years ..."

  • The IAF, which had tracked the Houston-based senior scientist Kumar Krishen's work for nearly three years ...

The original sentence is not grammatically incorrect, but would only make sense in highly abnormal contexts such as if Kumar Krishen's work was building robots, and these robots were themselves working and someone was "tracking the work of the robots (i.e. Krishen's work)". But this redundant use of both senses of the word "work" would be a very strange way to convey this thought. The way the sentence is written, it is most likely just a typo where the author meant to write the sentence in one of the two ways above.

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To keep track of something means:

to make certain that you know what is happening or has happened to someone or something

In this context, the IAF knew what Houston-based senior scientist Kumar Krishen was working on, and knew that his intel would be of great use for carrying out their operations. So, when Kumar Krishen quit his job with NASA, he was brought in by the IAF, to help them with whatever his expertise was needed for.

Update

The doubt if this sentence has an error, is probably because of the multiple usage of the word 'work'. As pointed out by J. Taylor, that seems like a typographical error.

  • It actually is an error, unless the author is trying to say that Kumar Krishen's work is working (whatever that would mean), and that they have been keeping track of the work of the work ... most likely it was just a typo, where they initially wrote it one way, and then forgot to remove the extra "work" after the rewrite. – J. Taylor Feb 26 at 5:40
  • @J.Taylor, I agree. – Varun Nair Feb 26 at 5:43
  • To avoid the repetition of work, the first instance could also simply be changed: The IAF, which had tracked the progress of Houston-based senior scientist Kumar Krishen's work for nearly three years . . . But I'll also note that the finally roped in used later on is even worse. Based on that being used, I wouldn't say that the repetition of work was an oversight or a typographical error. Rather, it was written by someone who meant to use it—but who doesn't speak English fluently. – Jason Bassford Feb 26 at 6:11

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