Is it recommended to use "we" in research papers? If not, should I always use passive voice?
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We is used in papers with multiple authors. Even in papers having only one author/researcher, we is used to draw the reader into the discussion at hand. Moreover, there are several ways to avoid using the passive voice in the absence of we. On the one hand, there are many instances where the passive voice cannot be avoided, while, on the other, we can also be overused to the point of irritation. Variety is indeed the spice of a well written scientific paper, but the bottom line is to convey the information as succinctly as possible.
It's definitely OK to use "we" in research papers. I edit them professionally and see it used frequently.
However, many papers with multiple authors use such constructions as "the investigators," or "the researchers." In practice, there really aren't that many occasions when the authors of a scientific paper need to refer to themselves as agents. It happens, sure. But not that often.
Rather, the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusion sections should speak for themselves. Any reference to the authors should be minimal as except in rare cases they are not germane to the findings.
APA (The American Psychology Association) has the following to say about the use of "we" (p. 69-70).
protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 0:24
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