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Question about using we in research paper

  1. Sep 23, 2007 #1
    Question about using "we" in research paper

    is it ok to use "we" in a research paper even if you're the only author?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2007 #2
    Yes.

    You could also use 'I', but it sometimes sounds arrogant and can be distracting.

    If in doubt- look at other single author papers in the journal you're submitting to.
     
  4. Sep 23, 2007 #3

    mathwonk

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    in math, "we" is very common, but more authors have begun to use "I". Personally, we tend to appreciate the honesty of those who say "I".

    "We" sounds to us almost like Mrs. Manners.
     
  5. Sep 23, 2007 #4

    A/4

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    I've always found "we" to be odd when it comes from a solo author -- a left-over of graduate days when working with an advisor. You could always remove the person from the text, all together. For example, instead of "We show that ...," you could say "It is shown that...", etc....
     
  6. Sep 23, 2007 #5

    mathwonk

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    well my research papers are mostly joint, but i just noticed that in my solo class notes I almost always use the royal "we". it looks kind of silly now that the subject has come up, but no one has ever criticized it, and believe me they have criticized everything else, including the ugly font choice.
     
  7. Sep 23, 2007 #6

    CompuChip

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    I tried writing something with "I" sometime, but I soon found myself thinking about it every time I wrote it and after a while, I started automatically going back to "we" and correcting it all the time.
    For some reason, I find that "we" just sounds ... I don't know, better?

    By the way, "we" doesn't have to refer to "we, authors"; it can also refer to "we, me (the author) and you (the reader)". Perhaps that's why I like it more. I just browsed through one of my favorite authors (as for writing style, at least), and I noted he often says we in derivations ("If we compare this to (...), we see that"). At other points he uses "I" or "you", e.g. "I'd like to show you now what happens [...]" or "Suppose you want to [...]".

    Basically, what I think I'm trying to say is: go with your preference and just do it as it seems the most natural to you while writing (though checking it afterwards for consistency is not a bad idea, if you want to avoid phrases like "(I/We) have seen (we/I) cannot solve this").
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2007
  8. Sep 23, 2007 #7

    mathwonk

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    one thing i like about "i" as opposed to "we" is that it sounds as if the author is taking responsibilty for the work, instead of pretending to be an anonymous part of some committee. so it takes more courage to say i. also since it sounds obtrusive to do so, it can serve as motivation to find more objective phrasing, like "the goal of this paper is to present...."
     
  9. Sep 23, 2007 #8

    turbo

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    "It is shown..." is in the passive voice, though, and that loses readers' interest pretty darned quickly. "We" (my collaborators and I) recently submitted a paper on observational astronomy to a peer-reviewed journal - had I not been joined by these people after starting the study, I would have had no compunction in using "I" in the paper. "We" (the royal we) sounds pretentious.
     
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