Is it ok to use first person in academic writing?

Don't use the “I” in the first person to express your opinions or feelings; cite credible sources to support your academic argument. The APA advocates using the first person (I) when describing your own research study. Don't use “we” unless you have co-authors. Do not refer to yourself or your co-authors in the third person (this author or these researchers).

This quick guide has been prepared with these questions in mind, consulting academic articles on the topic of first-person use of pronouns in all academic disciplines (see bib. However, if you're writing a resume, avoid the first person; describe your experience, education, and skills without using a personal pronoun (for example, under “Experience, you can write “Volunteering as a peer counselor). First-person pronouns have traditionally been avoided in hard fields, and appear more frequently in soft fields. The guidelines for the use of first-person pronouns (“I”, “we”, “my”, etc.) in academic writing vary by discipline, and there are also intradisciplinary differences.

Although the matter is not resolved at all, many writing experts over the past thirty years have advised the use of pronouns in the first person even in the sciences. In addition, certain sections of the articles tend to use first-person pronouns more often and for different purposes. Of course, if you work in social sciences, case studies, accounts of other people's personal experiences are a crucial part of your scholarship. The material a discipline deals with will dictate the frequency of the first person, and preferences for pronouns also seem to vary according to the writer's mother tongue (English tends to “me”, Norwegian to “we” and French to avoid first-person pronouns).

Personal belief or opinion is generally not enough in and of itself; you will need some kind of evidence to convince your reader. Some style guides, such as APA, require the use of first-person pronouns when referring to your own actions and opinions. Ultimately, if you think that using first-person has a purpose or will have a strategic effect on your audience, then it's probably OK to use first-person pronouns. Avoiding the first person here creates the desired impression of an observed phenomenon that could be reproduced and also creates a stronger and clearer statement.

The third-person point of view is generally used in scientific articles, but sometimes formatting can be difficult. In academic writing, it's important to make sure it's clear what you're referring to when you use demonstrations. By crossing the use of the passive voice off the list of acceptable alternatives, these writers advise that first-person pronouns force us to clarify who does what in sentences, ruling out possible ambiguities.