What does "sniffed in an academic paper" mean?

Hi, it’s me again, I hope it’s OK if I’m asking a couple of questions in a row. I’ve just come across this sentence:

“the two software engineers sniffed in an academic paper”

What does sniffed in mean here? Does it mean they read something or that they wrote something? I mean, who wrote that academic paper, the two software engineers or someone else?

Hi englishfan,

This is a bit of a mystery to me. I can only think it means that they thought they read/suspected they saw - but it’s only a guess. Sniff is to draw in air through the nose in order to smell something. It can be used as a noun to suggest hint as in: There was a sniff of secrecy about the affair.