Writing Essays Opinion

Writing Essays Opinion-35
Writers in these fields tend to value assertiveness and to emphasize agency (who’s doing what), so the first person is often—but not always—appropriate.

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The statement would read better as “The poem ‘The Wasteland’ creates a sense of emptiness.” Academic writers almost always use alternatives to the second person pronoun, such as “one,” “the reader,” or “people.” The question of whether personal experience has a place in academic writing depends on context and purpose.

In papers that seek to analyze an objective principle or data as in science papers, or in papers for a field that explicitly tries to minimize the effect of the researcher’s presence such as anthropology, personal experience would probably distract from your purpose.

This handout is about determining when to use first person pronouns (“I”, “we,” “me,” “us,” “my,” and “our”) and personal experience in academic writing.

“First person” and “personal experience” might sound like two ways of saying the same thing, but first person and personal experience can work in very different ways in your writing.

Using personal experience effectively usually means keeping it in the service of your argument, as opposed to letting it become an end in itself or take over the paper.

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It’s also usually best to keep your real or hypothetical stories brief, but they can strengthen arguments in need of concrete illustrations or even just a little more vitality.

Avoiding “I” can lead to awkwardness and vagueness, whereas using it in your writing can improve style and clarity.

Using personal experience, when relevant, can add concreteness and even authority to writing that might otherwise be vague and impersonal.

Often these ideas are derived from good advice but have been turned into unnecessarily strict rules in our minds.

The problem is that overly strict rules about writing can prevent us, as writers, from being flexible enough to learn to adapt to the writing styles of different fields, ranging from the sciences to the humanities, and different kinds of writing projects, ranging from reviews to research.

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