boojum42 (boojum42) wrote,

Academic language

Some thoughts on conventions of academic writing:

1. I wish I could use the first person in academic writing. I feel like it should be ok to say "I administered X test" or "We observed Y" or "We evaluated Z."

I get that research is supposed to be unbiased. Maybe admitting that a human conducted it or had thoughts about it is bad because it indicates bias, implying that a different human might have done it differently. But... if the bias is there, it doesn't go away just because the author uses the passive voice when writing it up. First person seems more honest.

Is the problem that it is self-centered for a researcher to refer to herself? This seems odd inasmuch as first person isn't inherently rude/selfish in other contexts.

2. Is the word "people" somehow insufficiently formal for research work? And if so: why? It is neither inaccurate nor offensive (as far as I know!), so my best guess is that it is somehow overly casual. I hadn't thought so, but in academic writing I keep being told to say things like "individuals" or "participants" instead. To clarify: I trust that my professors are telling me to use "individuals" etc instead of "people" because that is considered to be stylistically more appropriate, and I appreciate that they are teaching me proper style. I just don't understand WHY that is the proper style.

Anyway, maybe I'm missing something and there are good reasons for these conventions. Any thoughts?
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