“We” in scientific prose

The exaggerated use of “we”, “our”, etc. may make scientific prose pretty heavy (I mean, more than it should) and show the authors as very self-proud fellows (which they probably are, but it is good manner to try to keep a level of false modesty). Here is my suggestion: use “we” for matters that are really the author’s choice. For instance:

  • we investigate this topic; our paper shows…
  • we choose these numerical values for the simulation

For other matters, try rather the passive form:

  • Result of a calculation: “the result is found to be”, “the calculation yields”, rather than “we obtain” (after all, you expect everyone to obtain the same)
  • Observation: “the expected peak is observed” rather than “we observe the expected peak”.

Of course, enjoy flexibility 🙂

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About valerio

Principal investigator at Centre for Quantum Technologies and professor at National University of Singapore

Posted on September 5, 2011, in Paper writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wow. These academic advices are the first of the kind that I encounter. Thanks prof!

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