when wrting a paper, we shouldn't use "I" instead of "we" even when we do it on our own, right ?
You'd use "we".Drimar said:when wrting a paper, we shouldn't use "I" instead of "we" even when we do it on our own, right ?
Examples abound in fields where the writer works alone - literature, film, philosophy, politics. The OP didn't ask specifically about scientific research papers. He's probably an undergrad that has to write papers in a vast variety of subjects. The specifics of how he should write depend on the subject, as well as the professor.Rach3 said:Most papers I've seen use first person plural in the abstract, and mostly passive 3rd person in the paper itself with occasional "we". Skimming the current issue of http://prl.aps.org/toc/PRL/v96/i13" [Broken], sixteen of the first twenty abstracts use "we". I do not remember ever seeing an "I" published, even in single-author papers (I'd love a counterexample!).
Using 3rd person doesn't absolve the writer from citing the original studies nor does it permit making generalizations that are untrue!0TheSwerve0 said:That's just what my teacher was talking about. There is debate on what should be used, and the argument against using 3rd person is that it comes across as an omnipotent view. Instead of saying, "I/We think" or "I/We found that," one says "it is," "it seems," or "it has been found"....well to whom, by whom, in what circumstance? The problem with that type of narration is that it doesn't specify these things, so the reader doesn't have a context for what is being found out about. Further, writers using that style are also able to present their findings as strict fact - "The gorillas were peaceful all the time," comes across as a stated fact, rather than a grounded observation. By whom were they observed to be so? This will affect results after all, so it is important for the reader to know. As I have understood it, postmodernists are pointing these problems out, raising these issues.
I second that.loseyourname said:Mix it up; in each case, go ahead and write from the perspective of the paper, and from an objective perspective, and from first-person.
I understand the reasons for giving style suggestions, but the use of 'correct' and 'incorrect' doesn't seem appropriate when coming from a teacher because I think it obscures the fact that those 'rules' are just personal opinions and desires. It also seems that, as a rule of thumb, telling people to never do X isn't as helpful as telling people that doing X will produce effect Y. These particular types of expressions seem to have some very useful uses. Just try paraphrasing the following.Moonbear said:Phrases like, "It seems..." or "It has been found..." are a separate problem from usage of first vs. third person. They're actually both grammatically incorrect uses of an indefinite pronoun. As my English teacher used to write on my essays in elementary school, "It? What it?" The pronoun refers to nothing in that sentence construction. The more correct usage would be, "Prior results suggest..." or "Previous studies have demonstrated..." followed by citation of those previous studies to prove you're not just handwaving.
That's exactly how I would rephrase the sentence, for formal writing anyway. Of course, we speak differently in informal writing or spoken language.honestrosewater said:(2) Various theories concerning this phenomenon exist.
I would use:(3) a. There are many ghosts in fairytales.
(3) b. Many ghosts in fairytales exist.
(3) c. Many ghosts exist in fairytales.
(4) Many ghosts occur in fairytales.
The result was as predicted.(5) a. There was a predicted result.
(5) b. A predicted result occurred.
I'd add one modification to that:Hm, I guess you could just say something like
(6) a. Various theories concerning this phenomenon are.
I agree with honestrosewater on this, a lot of rules for writing style are preferences that don't affect how scientific your research or analysis is. I think it's just been drilled into us that for things to be scientifically valid, we must not only follow the scientific method, but also school the way we talk about things. I don't mean being objective and clear, I'm referring to the way we subjectively associate certain styles of behavior or communication to be professional (and therefore valid) versus unprofessional (which can detract from the value people give your results). It's like whether or not you wear a suit to work, you can still perform your job well; but you aren't playing by the social rules and therefore your work is taken less seriously. An admission and awareness of human subjectivity (and therefore potential for error) through the use of first person perspective can even reinforce the level of objectivity expected in scientific work. Aside from this, I think peer review does a great job of evaluating research.Moonbear said:Personally, I don't like reading scientific papers that have been written in the first person. It sounds too much like bragging or like a child's lab report, "I did...and we conclude..." I end up thinking things like, "Well, of course it's what you did and your conclusions, because it's your paper. I would hope you did the work for your own paper."