Can you use first-person pronouns in an assignment and how to use them?
No, you can not. As a matter of fact, it is highly advisable for modern students not to use “I” in their assignment as the readers may consider these writings to be subjective. According to the general rules of scientific writing, it is not forbidden to use first-person pronouns in an assignment; nonetheless, they usually do not sound objective. Because the audience prefers to be informed with objective pieces of information, it is necessary to use passive voice instead. For example, instead
We (or I) discovered that the proportion of males and females in the sample had no significant relation to effect size of gender difference.
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there should be
The proportion of males and females in the sample was proven to have no significant relation to effect size of gender difference.
As a result, the main focus of the first sentence is on the important role of the author (or authors) while the structure of the second sentence shifts the attention from the writer to the obtained results.
At the same time, it is important to remember that it is possible to use first-person pronouns in an assignment when the writer wants to state a personal opinion. For example:
I think that the proportion of males and females in the sample has no significant relation to effect size of gender difference.
It is necessary to take into account that it is okay to use “I” in order to clarify the context and eliminate the number of passive voice sentences. In addition, this first-person pronoun may be used as a tool for establishing the credibility of the presented material, demonstrate a great interest in a discussion topic, and establish a close and more friendly connection with the audience. Besides, it is possible to use “I” to make a strong emphasis on the personal interpretation of the examined information, distinguish its perspective from the individual viewpoint, or to create a conversation with the readers.
Are there any cases when it is necessary to use first-person pronouns?
Yes, there is a number of cases when it is entirely appropriate to use “I” in the assignment. The first and the most spread among them is comprising reminiscences. For example:
I first read this book when I was fifteen.
The second case to be considered is related to position statements. For example:
I truly believe that the results of the research will help to develop a cancer treatment.
The last but not the least is a reflection of a personal view:
Despite the fact that there are many approaches to solving the issue, I distinguish only two of them as they appeared to be the most resultative.
In all of the cases mentioned above, the writer is presented to the audience as the central object to be taken into account.
Can you use “we” instead of “I”?
Yes, you can use “we” instead of “I” if the paper is has been completed by more than one writer. But still, it is recommended to use this personal pronoun only in the three cases mentioned above.
It also happens that some authors use “we” meaning “my audience and me.” For example:
If we make a thorough analysis of the obtained results, we will be able to conclude that…
When is it necessary to avoid “I” in an assignment?
You should avoid the first person when it makes your evidence not objective and creates the impression that the obtained results or presented information is unique only to your personal perspective. Next, it is advisable to avoid “I” if you want to keep the objective tone in order to minimize biases. Finally, do not use the first person while expressing your personal considerations and thoughts in general.
Here are the examples that show the difference in using “I” and substituting the first-person pronoun with passive voice constructions:
In order to understand and examine the devastating effects of the global warming on the natural environment, a range of environmental changes was examined.
This sentence seems to be too long and the manner of writing is not clear and well-understandable because of a passive voice construction. Besides, it is obvious that this research has been conducted by the authors. Therefore, it is necessary to use first-person pronouns to make an emphasis on the original project and the authors of the original research.
Therefore, it is possible to rewrite the sentence and use the first-person pronoun to make the sentence more clear and understandable. For example:
I (or we) analyzed a range of environmental changes in order to understand the devastating effects of the global warming on the natural environment.
In this context, it is acceptable to use both “I” and “we” to present the information in an active voice and make an emphasis on the performed action of the researcher(s).