When referred to journal publications, in 'previous work of Newton on gravity' or 'previous works of Newton on gravity', which one is correct?

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    This probably depends on the context. Previous work could refer to the whole work of Newton, all discoveries etc. Previous works could refer to scientific papers, and that is why it is plural. – TK-421 Jul 29 '19 at 9:11

You can certainly use both. Newton's previous work includes all of his previous works, and in addition his unpublished things and effort.

In the context of scientists and artists,

  • uncountable work is all of the labour, including experiments, sketches, time spent thinking, and all the books, paintings etc, whether published, unpublished, finished or unfinished.
  • countable singular work is a given book, painting etc
  • countable plural works is all of the books, paintings etc

The countable form is most often used for larger self-contained things such as books, films, journals, paintings etc, and not so often for smaller things such as journal articles, but it's a style question and you will see certainly see it, for example

Chicago Manual of Style: When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are italicized; titles of articles, chapters, and other shorter works are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks.

Remember of course there are very many other meanings of "work", in countable and uncountable forms.

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  • very helpful thx. when citing journal papers, for instance, 'quantum mechanics can be seen in works [1][2][3]' is not wrong but less common than 'quantum mechanics can be seen in work [1][2][3]'? – feynman Jul 31 '19 at 2:02
  • With three citations like that, you'd probably says "works". However, if you are saying something about it such as it's older, you might well say "can be seen in his early work [1][2][3]". – jonathanjo Jul 31 '19 at 11:42
  • i don't know if there's any difference between works and early work? – feynman Aug 2 '19 at 2:21
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    The difference in style is very small. I suggest you use uncountable "work", which is fine in every situation. – jonathanjo Aug 2 '19 at 12:12

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