[Re]: More passive voice questions

Subject: [Re]: More passive voice questions
From: Watson Laughton <LAUGHTON%ALLOY -dot- BITNET -at- PUCC -dot- PRINCETON -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 1994 12:24:00 EST

Rose A. Wilcox writes:

"The problem is not the active voice. It is the sentence structure".

No, I think the problem _is_ the active voice. Although saying "I added
the broth to the 125-ml flask and harvested the cells. After purifying the
extract, I added the urease" might be a fine way to describe what happened
at a lab data-presentation meeting, it would simply never fly in a
published account of the work. To read "I did this...I did that" in a
scientific report with 10 authors (_NONE_ of whom, in all likelihood,
actually "did" any of the actions described in the report) would be so
startlingly unorthodox and distracting that the editor would probably
request the language be revised.

Although active voice may be a noble goal to strive for in many areas
of endeavor, in scientific writing it looks funny at best, and is misleading
or inaccurate at worst.

laughton%alloy -dot- bitnet -at- pucc -dot- princeton -dot- edu

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