Style Question: Use of “we” vs. “I” vs. passive voice in a dissertation
When the first person voice is used in scientific writing it is mostly used in the first person plural, as scientific papers almost always have more than one co-author, such as
"We propose a new method to study cell differentiation in nematodes."
Often the "we" also includes the reader
"We may see in Figure 4.2 that..."
However, I am writing a thesis which means I am the only author and I even have to testify in writing that the work is my own and I did not receive any help other than from the indicated sources. Therefore it seems I should use "I", but this seems to be very unusual in scientific writing and even discouraged as one may sound pretentious or self-absorbed. However, the alternative is to use the passive voice, which seems to be even more discouraged as it produces hard to read writing and indeed an entire thesis in the passive voice may be indigestible for any reader.
So far, I used the second form of "we" extensively that includes me and the reader. This form is often natural when describing mathematical derivations as the truth is objective and it suggests that I am taking the reader by the hand and walking her through the process. Still, I'm trying not do overdo this form.
However, eventually I will need to refer to methods that I propose and choices that I have made. Should I just follow scientific convention and use "we" although it is factually inaccurate or indeed write in the scorned-upon "I"?