The Language Of Science And Academia

If we examine the text of scientific articles it is clear that there is a generally accepted way of writing them. Scientific text is precise, impersonal and objective. It typically uses the third person, the passive tense, complex terminology, and various footnoting and referencing systems.

Such matters are important when it comes to learning how to write scientific articles. Consider, for example, the following advice:

Good scientific writing is characterised by objectivity. This means that a paper must present a balanced discussion of a range of views . . . Moreover, value judgements, which involve moral beliefs of what is 'right' or 'wrong' must be avoided . . . The use of personal pronouns is unnecessary, and can lead to biases or unsupported assumptions. In scientific papers, therefore, personal pronouns should not be used. When you write a paper, unless you attribute an opinion to someone else, it is understood to be your own. Phrases such as 'in my opinion' or 'I think,' therefore, are superfluous and a waste of words . . . For the same reasons, the plural pronouns we and our are not used.

(Cited, with permission, from Smyth, 1996, pp. 2—3)

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