Academic English: “I” and “we”!

Writing standards disagree about whether to use “I” and “we” (and their various forms) in academic work. Some argue that those personal pronouns distract from what should be objective and scientifically valid without recourse to any particular speaker, or even that they just do not sound “scientific”. Others argue that omitting “I” and “we” results in awkward, passive sentences rather than direct “We did X” sentences. Personally, I believe that academic writing should use personal pronouns whenever what is being reported was an arbitrary and specific choice made by a human being, or for opinions or personal judgment, precisely because these pronouns emphasize that a human was involved in the work. When reporting universal scientific facts or observations, I would not use personal pronouns, because any reasonable observer would have reported similar results and thus there is no need to emphasize the role of the authors. Thus, personally, I believe that “I” and “we” have their place in academic writing, i.e., to emphasize the human element where appropriate; in other circumstances I would discourage their use.


Reference:

Dr. James A. Bednar. Tips for Academic Writing and Other Formal Writing

You might also like
1 Comment
  1. soumitra says

    i really wonder. how this relates i and we?

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.