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Writing my first paper for publishing, we or I?

  1. Jun 23, 2015 #1

    I came up with an idea, wen't through the steps and it consistently worked. So now I'm writing a paper on it to submit for publishing. Along with this being my first forum post this is my first paper to publish, and I'm also only in my undergraduate right now, so please pardon my beginner mistakes.

    The subject matter is in chemistry and physics, but I believe a bit more on the chemistry side so I'm looking to publish with the American Chemical Society.
    I've been basing my formatting and such on this sample:

    Now the situation I'm faced with is that I don't know whether to use "I" or "we" as they use we in the sample paper. I have a professor of mine on as the coauthor/adviser because he acquired the materials for me and helped me get started. However since I alone came up with the idea, performed the experiment, etc.., do I use "I did this..." or "We did this..." ? I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2015 #2


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    I don't know either. However, you should know that the verb "went" (past tense of "to go") is not a contraction.
  4. Jun 23, 2015 #3
    Lol, oops. Not sure why I typed it like that.
  5. Jun 23, 2015 #4
    'We' would tend to better etiquette if other people have been active collaborators, or you could just use neutral language.
    "Test X showed consistently that the condition 'A' was necessary prior to condition 'B' occurring".
  6. Jun 23, 2015 #5
    Thank you, I think I'll use the neutral language. I think it'll sound better and if someone cares enough they can always ask.
  7. Jun 23, 2015 #6


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    Neutral language for its own sake is not a good idea. If a sentence is clearer with "We" or "I", then you should use it. How do you know which option is clearer? Read this: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-science-of-scientific-writing/1 . That should answer this question.

    Regarding "We" or "I":
    (a) if there is more than one author, "I" is out of the question. It has to be "We".
    (b) if there is only one author, "We" is still fine. Especially in the context of explanations, the interpretation can be "I and the reader". I.e., pretend that the reader is closely following your argument.
  8. Jun 23, 2015 #7
    Ah, I see what you mean. I'll use "we" then. Thank you.
  9. Jun 24, 2015 #8
    I agree that if you have your professor as a coauthor, you should use 'we'. When I hear people use 'I', it just sounds unnatural and makes me raise an eyebrow a bit (unless it is a very well respected single author).
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