Re: TECHNICAL, ACADEMIC: use or not use `we'

Subject: Re: TECHNICAL, ACADEMIC: use or not use `we'
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 18:52:07 GMT

chen1 -at- csc -dot- liv -dot- ac -dot- uk (Mr. C. Chen) wrote:

> I have been told, many times, that good academic papers and
> technical reports should be in the third person... and the
> passive voice...

Many authorities consider this to be obsolete thinking.
The third-person-passive style is rooted in the slow and
painful evolution of what we think of today as rationalism
and normal scientific thought. It has served us well in
that capacity, but does not seem necessary today. Some
journals, and some scientists, still insist on it, though.

Note that it is possible to write clearly and engagingly in
that style, just as it is possible to write murkily and off-
puttingly in the first person and active voice. Not every-
thing you are told by the grammar-checking module in a word
processor is to be taken as gospel, either. :)

My advice: *think* like a scientist and *write*, carefully,
in whatever style comes naturally to you.

Crossposted to bit.listserv.techwr-l, a newsgroup and mailing
list devoted to technical-writing issues, with followups
back here to misc.writing.

"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"

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