Re: Level of writing

Subject: Re: Level of writing
From: Christine Pellar-Kosbar <chrispk -at- merit -dot- edu>
To: Chris Hamilton <cah_91 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 12:29:50 -0500

Hi,

Chris Hamilton wrote:

> I worked for a guy with an academic background once
> and we had a long discussion about approaches to the
> documentation.

What exactly were you writing: computer documentation, grants, research
proposals?

> He was uncomfortable with the approach
> I took (second person, active voice, etc.), which I
> thought was silly.
>
> But he said that in the academic world, third person
> and passive voice are important because they convey a
> detachment that shows objectivity. I'm no expert in academic writing, but I
> also have no reason to doubt him.

I've read research articles written in the active voice and first person
(although not second). They were published, so the journal editors must have
accepted this style. I found these articles as persuasive as those written in
passive/third person.

> I can disagree with him all I want, but if writing
> what I think is correct is going to get my work
> ignored or taken less than seriously, what good have I
> done?

You have at least gotten your point across. His doc is at the bottom of a
stack of unread documents on someone's desk.

If I can't read his doc reasonably quickly, I'm unlikely to care whether he is
objective or not. After I read and understand your doc, then I get to the step
where I consider the validity of your ideas.


Christine Pellar-Kosbar






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