Using I in your assignments

Students are often puzzled as to whether they can use the first person in their university assignments. The tutors quoted in Chapter 3 indicate the range of views about this. The question is closely related to the larger question of your relationship to your material, and your sense of your identity as the writer of the assignment. There may be a wide range of reasons for the use of the first person in a piece of writing. For example, you might want to signal that the ideas you are presenting are not definitive. It might be that you want to write about your personal opinion at some points and you want to separate this from some other parts of the assignment where you do not use ' I'. Often writers use I' in their introduction to establish their place in relation to their material, and then go on to present the material itself in a more distanced fashion. Above all, the use of I' can establish a sense of a relation between writer and reader and between the writer and their material. In the following activity we ask you to investigate writers' use - or non-use - of the first person by looking at some course materials.

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