2
  1. Endothelial cell density of these five patients was...
  2. The correlation of endothelial cell density by specular illumination and by light microscopy using human eye bank eyes is shown in the Table.
  3. Endothelial cell density was calculated to be...

In the first case I have to add "the", I have no doubt in this. But in the second and third cases I am not sure whether I have to add "the", and how the meaning will change with and without "the" in the 2nd and 3rd cases.

  • @CowperKettle ...did I summarize stangdon successfully below? I can't tell. – P. E. Dant Jul 23 '16 at 1:35
  • @P.E.Dant - you gave a good answer. The open choice of article in sentence 3 still amazes me... – CowperKettle Jul 23 '16 at 6:29
  • @P.E.Dant - It's a good explanation. – tosh Jul 24 '16 at 3:10
1

Because "Endothelial cell density" is a measurable phenomenon which can have differing values, you should probably use the definite article only when you are referring to specific instances of the phenomenon. Thus, your conclusion about the first case is correct:

The endothelial cell density of these five patients was...

In Case 2, you are referring to "endothelial cell density" as the phenomenon itself to be determined by two different methods, so the definite article is not necessary.

In Case 3, you are again referring to a specific instance, so the definite article is appropriate, but not necessary for sense. The sentence sounds fine with or without the.

It seems to me that this question is more a matter of style than rule. Much scientific writing routinely omits the definite article. In contexts like this one, if you omit it or include when it "sounds right," you will usually be on firm ground.

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