With your work-in-process research paper, with your work-in-process research paper, you are about to embark on a glorious journey into academia. Getting aboard on this voyage, you must have a lot of questions. One is about using the proper first-person pronouns, like, “Can I use “I” in a research paper?”
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Different style guides recommend using first-person pronouns in academic and scientific writing. However, there is no reason you cannot use first-person pronouns in these writing genres. In fact, for many generations, writers have been discouraged from using “I” and “we” in academic books simply because of old habits. However, there is no reason we should think badly about using “I” in a research paper topics or any of these genres of writing.
We get these ideas from teachers and other students primarily. Often, these ideas are born from great advice that has been twisted into pointless, rigid rules in our minds. The trouble is that too many stringent regulations surrounding writing can stop us from being flexible enough to adjust to the various writing styles required in different fields.
Sometimes, it is beneficial for you to break some of the older rules. Although some scholars think these rules are good to follow, many instructors in diverse fields are finding reasons to veer from these rules. Avoiding “I” can result in awkwardness, whereas using it in your writing can improve style and clarity.
Your writing varies greatly depending on the situation, audience, and purpose. The key is to decipher the conventions of your writing context and understand how the purpose of the way you write. The remainder of this handout will provide strategies for understanding when to use “I” and personal experience in your writing.
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The main difficulty does not lie, in fact, in the point of writing a dissertation, a thesis, or a research paper in the first person, but in the ability to justify this choice and to have it accepted by one’s peers.
Here are some of the arguments that can justify this choice of writing.
Therefore, choosing the “I” in writing amounts to break with the idea that knowledge dominates the researcher. It results from a co-construction between the unveiling of social reality and the researcher’s relationship with an apprentice ethnographer.
As an apprentice ethnographer, I use this first-person singular to give a voice to the participants who carried out my investigation by placing my voice correctly. I am not this investigation; they are through me, my attempts at analysis, and my scientific contribution. It is their lives, their words, and their experiences that constitute the investigation that makes it possible.
In this case, it is a question of considering the “I” as a new scientific approach, which recognizes the researcher’s whole place in the construction of knowledge but gives an authentic voice to the participants, who are no longer only the tools of research. Using this first, staff would then translate the ability of each to make themselves present in the text by considering the research as a relationship between a researcher, their field, their archives, and their participants.
Nevertheless, using the first person remains controversial in some disciplines, and the frequency with which it is used varies from field to discipline. It is useful here to distinguish between the so-called “hard” sciences and the “soft” sciences (although the distinction is not absolute). The hard sciences correspond to scientific subjects in common sense, and the soft sciences are human and social.
Thus, the first person can be found today in theses or, more generally, in published academic works, whether in the hard sciences or soft sciences. However, its use varies from discipline to discipline. Collaborative fields prefer “we,” while more particular areas like “I.”
The content a discipline deals with will dictate the frequency with which the first person is used. There also seem to be language-specific preferences: English prefers ‘I,’ Norwegian that ‘we,’ while French generally tries to avoid using the first person.
You will find below some additional remarks that will help you decide if the use of the first person in given writing is to be preserved or, on the contrary, to be corrected.
Generally speaking, the difference between soft and hard sciences is helpful when considering the acceptable level of first-person employment. Even if we don’t consider it a taboo anymore to use the first person in the hard sciences, the latter have a tendency to utilize it less than in the soft sciences.
The academics of biology, medicine, and engineering try to avoid using the first person, on the other hand, humanities, philosophy, and literature-related studies tend to use it more frequently.
Although it cannot be said that the first person is never used in a medical thesis, it can be said it would seem aberratic if its use is widespread and for no apparent good reason. Another consideration is that texts that weave form their direction through complex theoretical content will use the first person more.
When an author is personally involved in summarizing and refuting an opposing point of view, the first person is essential to help the reader distinguish between the different arguments early and identify the authors who claim them.
Concludingly, the greater the number of references regarding multiple researchers and their establishments, the more acceptable the use of the first person seems to understand the visions and ideas of the author.
Also, some parts of research often use the first person redundantly for one or more purposes. When making our way into the introduction, the pronoun “I” is commonly used to indicate the research project and the structuring of the text.
Writing a research paper is, most of the time, a challenge. Especially when you want to break some rules and sometimes go for first-person pros, use “I” in your research paper. However, that won’t be a challenge for you after everything you have read above. You have our blessing; get them!
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