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My friend asked me the meaning of the sentence below:

May, for this effect was only tested in conditions with a task (see further below).

(excerpt from a scientific paper, p.28)

I think the meaning is "we can only say 'may' as this effect was only tested in conditions with a task" because preceding sentences use "may".
However, I'm not sure about the interpretation because I have never seen this usage of "may".


EDIT: As @rcook says, I should have provided more context.
The below is the full paragraph which contains the sentence:

Contrary to other reports [12,27], no clear effect of habituation was found in the present study. This may be ascribed to the fact that the majority of MISC ratings were 5 or less, i.e., no nausea felt, although one subject withdrew from the experiment due to nausea. Although strictly speaking, “sickness” may intuitively overvalue the average symptoms observed in this study, I will still use it for reasons of simplicity, also because it is part of the motion sickness syndrome as a whole. Furthermore, in combination with the observation that the MISC ratings were not saturated on average within the 20 minute exposures used here, it might be anticipated that with a stronger stimulus and/or a longer exposure time, the effect of habituation would have become evident. Larger effect sizes may, furthermore, be anticipated when using non-blindfolded subjects. In [13], for example, the least sickness was observed in blindfolded subjects exposed to ship motion in a simulator as compared to viewing both an Earth-fixed and a subject-fixed environment. A larger effect of vibration per se may, lastly, be obtained by omitting a mental distraction task, thus allowing the subjects to “think freely”. May, for this effect was only tested in conditions with a task (see further below).

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    This is not a complete sentence. It is not possible to tell what "May" means without more context.
    – rcook
    Aug 24, 2020 at 12:07
  • I think the cited text is badly-written. It's pointlessly verbose, to say the least, and I for one think that final "parenthetical" qualification of [vibration effect] may be obtained... just looks pretentious, given no such qualification was attached to earlier [lack of habituation effect] may be ascribed..., ["sickness"] may intuitively overvalue..., etc. Also note that formal "lab reports" like this usually avoid using first person singular. All I can say is Don't copy this style! Aug 24, 2020 at 16:31
  • (I have no idea whether the final caveat regarding may is supposed to refer to just the single immediately-preceding instance of the word, OR to all four assertions that something "may" be the case.) Aug 24, 2020 at 16:35

1 Answer 1

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More context:

A larger effect of vibration per se may, lastly, be obtained by omitting a mental distraction task, thus allowing the subjects to “think freely”. May, for this effect was only tested in conditions with a task (see further below)

Yes, "May" starting the second sentence refers back to the same word in the first. Some writers would have enclosed the second "May" with quotation marks.

Your surmise is correct:

I think the meaning is "we can only say 'may' as this effect was only tested in conditions with a task" because the preceding sentence uses "may".

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