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We Prefer the Royal 'We'

Chad Orzel is polling his readers about proper scientific writing etiquette. He says that "one of the things I had beaten into my head when I was a grad student writing papers was that scientific papers ought to be written in the first person plural and the active voice." But he's also noticed that some people think scientific writing should be impersonal. "I've been told by students that other departments on campus insist that lab reports be written in the passive voice, and that the first person is to be avoided at all costs," he writes. He's asking his readers three questions: what literature are they familiar with, what voice should papers be written in, and should they be in first person, second person, or third person?

The Scan

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