In Nature this week, Peter Fiske writes that too many young scientists put themselves at a disadvantage by adopting a passive voice both in their writing, and in their career development initiatives. Though science publishing has traditionally favored the passive voice — "10 µL of buffer was added," rather than "we added 10 µL of buffer" — Fiske writes that more young scientists have begun to employ a more active tone in their manuscripts. Because the author argues that the "culture of science still seems to encourage a 'passive voice' in much of the rest of their careers," he encourages young scientists to adopt an active voice and to self-promote and proactively establish collaborations outside of their own institution. "Avoiding the appearance of 'self-promotion' may seem desirable for establishing credibility," Fiske writes. "But failure to make any attempt to advocate for oneself and one's abilities can be misinterpreted as indifference, even arrogance." He also suggests that taking a "passive career approach" during a global recession will become increasingly disadvantageous for young scientists. "Broadcasting one's accomplishments and exercising the 'active voice' in all aspects of one's work is the best way to earn notice, gain recognition and make the public at large aware of the value of the scientific enterprise," Fiske writes.
Assuming an Active Voice in Your Writing and Career
Mar 11, 2010