Formal and Informal English
A Final Word
As hinted at in the introduction, it is not always easy to choose the right level at which to pitch the language of an assignment. All academic work should generally be presented in a reasonably formal style, and should not normally use a lot of everyday “street” language. But this does not mean that it should be excessively stuffy and formal either. On the contrary, saying something clearly and simply is one of the requirements of good scientific writing.
The whole question of style is open to a certain amount of discussion in the academic world. For example, students often wonder whether they should use “I” or “we”, and how much they should use the passive construction . Reference to the author in person should normally be kept to a minimum, especially in the orthodox quantitative sciences (physics, chemistry, biology etc.), although you will encounter many academic papers in other areas (e.g. the social sciences) where “I” or “we” may be used quite extensively. A good rule to remember is that everything in your paper is actually attributable to you, the author, unless you give specific references or indication to the contrary, so the use of “I” may simply be unnecessary.
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