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Words and Phrases to Avoid in Academic Writing

Published on February 6, 2016 by Sarah Vinz . Revised on September 11, 2023.

When you are writing a dissertation , thesis, or research paper, many words and phrases that are acceptable in conversations or informal writing are considered inappropriate in academic writing .

You should try to avoid expressions that are too informal, unsophisticated, vague, exaggerated, or subjective, as well as those that are generally unnecessary or incorrect.

Bear in mind, however, that these guidelines do not apply to text you are directly quoting from your sources (including interviews ).

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Table of contents

Too informal, too exaggerated, too subjective, generally incorrect, other interesting articles.

Academic writing is generally more formal than the writing we see in non-academic materials (including on websites). It is also more formal than the ways in which we normally speak. The following words and phrases are considered too informal for a dissertation or academic paper.

A bit The interviews were difficult to schedule The interviews were to schedule
A lot of, a couple of studies studies
Isn’t, can’t, doesn’t, would’ve (or any other ) The sample The sample
Kind of, sort of The findings were significant The findings were
Til, till From 2008 2012 From 2008 2012
You, your

(i.e., the )

can clearly see the results can clearly see the results

Informal sentence starts

Some words are acceptable in certain contexts, but become too informal when used at the beginning of a sentence. You can replace these with appropriate  transition words  or simply remove them from the sentence.

Plus the participants were in agreement on the third question , the participants were in agreement on the third question
So it can be concluded that the model needs further refinement  it can be concluded that the model needs further refinement
And the participants were all over the age of 30 The participants were all over the age of 30
we asked all the participants to sign an agreement , we asked all the participants to sign an agreement

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Using vague terms makes your writing imprecise and may cause people to interpret it in different ways. Always try to be as specific as possible.

Stuff People are concerned about their People are concerned about their
Thing The report presents many The report presents many
This topic has interested researchers for This topic has interested researchers for

Academic writing is usually unadorned and direct. Some adverbs of frequency (such as always and never ) and intensifiers (words that create emphasis, such as really ) are often too dramatic. They may also not be accurate – you’re making a significant claim when you say something is perfect or never happens.

These terms do sometimes add value, but try to use them sparingly.

Always, never Researchers argue that Researchers argue that
Perfect The solution to the problem to the problem
Really, so, super This theory is important This theory is

Some words and phrases reveal your own bias. For instance, if you state that something will obviously happen, you are indicating that you think the occurrence is obvious – not stating a fact.

Expressing your opinion is appropriate in certain sections of a dissertation and in particular types of academic texts (such as personal statements and reflective or argumentative essays ). In most cases, though, take care when using words and phrases such as those below – try to let the facts speak for themselves, or emphasize your point with less biased language.

Beautiful, ugly, wonderful, horrible, great, boring A review of the literature yielded many articles A review of the literature yielded many  articles
Obviously, naturally, of course The results indicate The results  indicate

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Certain words and phrases are often used incorrectly, even by native speakers of a language. If you’re exposed to such mistakes often enough, you may start to assume they are correct – but it’s important that you don’t let them creep into your writing.

You should also bear in mind that some of these mistakes relate to things we all frequently mishear (for instance, we often think the speaker is saying would of instead of would have ).

Literally The students did not understand The students did not understand
Would of, had of The study considered The study considered

In general, you should also try to avoid using words and phrases that fall into the following categories:

  • Jargon (i.e., “insider” terminology that may be difficult for readers from other fields to understand)
  • Clichés (i.e., expressions that are heavily overused, such as think outside of the box and at the end of the day )
  • Everyday abbreviations (e.g., approx. , ASAP, corona, stats, info )
  • Slang (e.g., cops , cool )
  • Gender-biased language   (e.g., firemen , mankind )
  • Generally unnecessary (e.g., redundant expressions that do not add meaning, such as compete with each other instead of simply compete)

Reflective reports and  personal statements  sometimes have a less formal tone. In these types of writing, you may not have to follow these guidelines as strictly. The preface or acknowledgements of a dissertation also often have a less formal and more personal voice than the rest of the document.

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Sarah Vinz

Sarah's academic background includes a Master of Arts in English, a Master of International Affairs degree, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She loves the challenge of finding the perfect formulation or wording and derives much satisfaction from helping students take their academic writing up a notch.

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Can You Use I or We in a Research Paper?

Can You Use I or We in a Research Paper?

4-minute read

  • 11th July 2023

Writing in the first person, or using I and we pronouns, has traditionally been frowned upon in academic writing . But despite this long-standing norm, writing in the first person isn’t actually prohibited. In fact, it’s becoming more acceptable – even in research papers.

 If you’re wondering whether you can use I (or we ) in your research paper, you should check with your institution first and foremost. Many schools have rules regarding first-person use. If it’s up to you, though, we still recommend some guidelines. Check out our tips below!

When Is It Most Acceptable to Write in the First Person?

Certain sections of your paper are more conducive to writing in the first person. Typically, the first person makes sense in the abstract, introduction, discussion, and conclusion sections. You should still limit your use of I and we , though, or your essay may start to sound like a personal narrative .

 Using first-person pronouns is most useful and acceptable in the following circumstances.

When doing so removes the passive voice and adds flow

Sometimes, writers have to bend over backward just to avoid using the first person, often producing clunky sentences and a lot of passive voice constructions. The first person can remedy this. For example: 

Both sentences are fine, but the second one flows better and is easier to read.

When doing so differentiates between your research and other literature

When discussing literature from other researchers and authors, you might be comparing it with your own findings or hypotheses . Using the first person can help clarify that you are engaging in such a comparison. For example: 

 In the first sentence, using “the author” to avoid the first person creates ambiguity. The second sentence prevents misinterpretation.

When doing so allows you to express your interest in the subject

In some instances, you may need to provide background for why you’re researching your topic. This information may include your personal interest in or experience with the subject, both of which are easier to express using first-person pronouns. For example:

Expressing personal experiences and viewpoints isn’t always a good idea in research papers. When it’s appropriate to do so, though, just make sure you don’t overuse the first person.

When to Avoid Writing in the First Person

It’s usually a good idea to stick to the third person in the methods and results sections of your research paper. Additionally, be careful not to use the first person when:

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●  It makes your findings seem like personal observations rather than factual results.

●  It removes objectivity and implies that the writing may be biased .

●  It appears in phrases such as I think or I believe , which can weaken your writing.

Keeping Your Writing Formal and Objective

Using the first person while maintaining a formal tone can be tricky, but keeping a few tips in mind can help you strike a balance. The important thing is to make sure the tone isn’t too conversational.

 To achieve this, avoid referring to the readers, such as with the second-person you . Use we and us only when referring to yourself and the other authors/researchers involved in the paper, not the audience.

It’s becoming more acceptable in the academic world to use first-person pronouns such as we and I in research papers. But make sure you check with your instructor or institution first because they may have strict rules regarding this practice.

 If you do decide to use the first person, make sure you do so effectively by following the tips we’ve laid out in this guide. And once you’ve written a draft, send us a copy! Our expert proofreaders and editors will be happy to check your grammar, spelling, word choice, references, tone, and more. Submit a 500-word sample today!

Is it ever acceptable to use I or we in a research paper?

In some instances, using first-person pronouns can help you to establish credibility, add clarity, and make the writing easier to read.

How can I avoid using I in my writing?

Writing in the passive voice can help you to avoid using the first person.

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Can You Use First-Person Pronouns (I/we) in a Research Paper?

can you use & in a research paper

Research writers frequently wonder whether the first person can be used in academic and scientific writing. In truth, for generations, we’ve been discouraged from using “I” and “we” in academic writing simply due to old habits. That’s right—there’s no reason why you can’t use these words! In fact, the academic community used first-person pronouns until the 1920s, when the third person and passive-voice constructions (that is, “boring” writing) were adopted–prominently expressed, for example, in Strunk and White’s classic writing manual “Elements of Style” first published in 1918, that advised writers to place themselves “in the background” and not draw attention to themselves.

In recent decades, however, changing attitudes about the first person in academic writing has led to a paradigm shift, and we have, however, we’ve shifted back to producing active and engaging prose that incorporates the first person.

Can You Use “I” in a Research Paper?

However, “I” and “we” still have some generally accepted pronoun rules writers should follow. For example, the first person is more likely used in the abstract , Introduction section , Discussion section , and Conclusion section of an academic paper while the third person and passive constructions are found in the Methods section and Results section .

In this article, we discuss when you should avoid personal pronouns and when they may enhance your writing.

It’s Okay to Use First-Person Pronouns to:

  • clarify meaning by eliminating passive voice constructions;
  • establish authority and credibility (e.g., assert ethos, the Aristotelian rhetorical term referring to the personal character);
  • express interest in a subject matter (typically found in rapid correspondence);
  • establish personal connections with readers, particularly regarding anecdotal or hypothetical situations (common in philosophy, religion, and similar fields, particularly to explore how certain concepts might impact personal life. Additionally, artistic disciplines may also encourage personal perspectives more than other subjects);
  • to emphasize or distinguish your perspective while discussing existing literature; and
  • to create a conversational tone (rare in academic writing).

The First Person Should Be Avoided When:

  • doing so would remove objectivity and give the impression that results or observations are unique to your perspective;
  • you wish to maintain an objective tone that would suggest your study minimized biases as best as possible; and
  • expressing your thoughts generally (phrases like “I think” are unnecessary because any statement that isn’t cited should be yours).

Usage Examples

The following examples compare the impact of using and avoiding first-person pronouns.

Example 1 (First Person Preferred):

To understand the effects of global warming on coastal regions,  changes in sea levels, storm surge occurrences and precipitation amounts  were examined .

[Note: When a long phrase acts as the subject of a passive-voice construction, the sentence becomes difficult to digest. Additionally, since the author(s) conducted the research, it would be clearer to specifically mention them when discussing the focus of a project.]

We examined  changes in sea levels, storm surge occurrences, and precipitation amounts to understand how global warming impacts coastal regions.

[Note: When describing the focus of a research project, authors often replace “we” with phrases such as “this study” or “this paper.” “We,” however, is acceptable in this context, including for scientific disciplines. In fact, papers published the vast majority of scientific journals these days use “we” to establish an active voice.   Be careful when using “this study” or “this paper” with verbs that clearly couldn’t have performed the action.   For example, “we attempt to demonstrate” works, but “the study attempts to demonstrate” does not; the study is not a person.]

Example 2 (First Person Discouraged):

From the various data points  we have received ,  we observed  that higher frequencies of runoffs from heavy rainfall have occurred in coastal regions where temperatures have increased by at least 0.9°C.

[Note: Introducing personal pronouns when discussing results raises questions regarding the reproducibility of a study. However, mathematics fields generally tolerate phrases such as “in X example, we see…”]

Coastal regions  with temperature increases averaging more than 0.9°C  experienced  higher frequencies of runoffs from heavy rainfall.

[Note: We removed the passive voice and maintained objectivity and assertiveness by specifically identifying the cause-and-effect elements as the actor and recipient of the main action verb. Additionally, in this version, the results appear independent of any person’s perspective.] 

Example 3 (First Person Preferred):

In contrast to the study by Jones et al. (2001), which suggests that milk consumption is safe for adults, the Miller study (2005) revealed the potential hazards of ingesting milk.  The authors confirm  this latter finding.

[Note: “Authors” in the last sentence above is unclear. Does the term refer to Jones et al., Miller, or the authors of the current paper?]

In contrast to the study by Jones et al. (2001), which suggests that milk consumption is safe for adults, the Miller study (2005) revealed the potential hazards of ingesting milk.  We confirm  this latter finding.

[Note: By using “we,” this sentence clarifies the actor and emphasizes the significance of the recent findings reported in this paper. Indeed, “I” and “we” are acceptable in most scientific fields to compare an author’s works with other researchers’ publications. The APA encourages using personal pronouns for this context. The social sciences broaden this scope to allow discussion of personal perspectives, irrespective of comparisons to other literature.]

Other Tips about Using Personal Pronouns

  • Avoid starting a sentence with personal pronouns. The beginning of a sentence is a noticeable position that draws readers’ attention. Thus, using personal pronouns as the first one or two words of a sentence will draw unnecessary attention to them (unless, of course, that was your intent).
  • Be careful how you define “we.” It should only refer to the authors and never the audience unless your intention is to write a conversational piece rather than a scholarly document! After all, the readers were not involved in analyzing or formulating the conclusions presented in your paper (although, we note that the point of your paper is to persuade readers to reach the same conclusions you did). While this is not a hard-and-fast rule, if you do want to use “we” to refer to a larger class of people, clearly define the term “we” in the sentence. For example, “As researchers, we frequently question…”
  • First-person writing is becoming more acceptable under Modern English usage standards; however, the second-person pronoun “you” is still generally unacceptable because it is too casual for academic writing.
  • Take all of the above notes with a grain of salt. That is,  double-check your institution or target journal’s author guidelines .  Some organizations may prohibit the use of personal pronouns.
  • As an extra tip, before submission, you should always read through the most recent issues of a journal to get a better sense of the editors’ preferred writing styles and conventions.

Wordvice Resources

For more general advice on how to use active and passive voice in research papers, on how to paraphrase , or for a list of useful phrases for academic writing , head over to the Wordvice Academic Resources pages . And for more professional proofreading services , visit our Academic Editing and P aper Editing Services pages.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Should I Use “I”?

What this handout is about.

This handout is about determining when to use first person pronouns (“I”, “we,” “me,” “us,” “my,” and “our”) and personal experience in academic writing. “First person” and “personal experience” might sound like two ways of saying the same thing, but first person and personal experience can work in very different ways in your writing. You might choose to use “I” but not make any reference to your individual experiences in a particular paper. Or you might include a brief description of an experience that could help illustrate a point you’re making without ever using the word “I.” So whether or not you should use first person and personal experience are really two separate questions, both of which this handout addresses. It also offers some alternatives if you decide that either “I” or personal experience isn’t appropriate for your project. If you’ve decided that you do want to use one of them, this handout offers some ideas about how to do so effectively, because in many cases using one or the other might strengthen your writing.

Expectations about academic writing

Students often arrive at college with strict lists of writing rules in mind. Often these are rather strict lists of absolutes, including rules both stated and unstated:

  • Each essay should have exactly five paragraphs.
  • Don’t begin a sentence with “and” or “because.”
  • Never include personal opinion.
  • Never use “I” in essays.

We get these ideas primarily from teachers and other students. Often these ideas are derived from good advice but have been turned into unnecessarily strict rules in our minds. The problem is that overly strict rules about writing can prevent us, as writers, from being flexible enough to learn to adapt to the writing styles of different fields, ranging from the sciences to the humanities, and different kinds of writing projects, ranging from reviews to research.

So when it suits your purpose as a scholar, you will probably need to break some of the old rules, particularly the rules that prohibit first person pronouns and personal experience. Although there are certainly some instructors who think that these rules should be followed (so it is a good idea to ask directly), many instructors in all kinds of fields are finding reason to depart from these rules. Avoiding “I” can lead to awkwardness and vagueness, whereas using it in your writing can improve style and clarity. Using personal experience, when relevant, can add concreteness and even authority to writing that might otherwise be vague and impersonal. Because college writing situations vary widely in terms of stylistic conventions, tone, audience, and purpose, the trick is deciphering the conventions of your writing context and determining how your purpose and audience affect the way you write. The rest of this handout is devoted to strategies for figuring out when to use “I” and personal experience.

Effective uses of “I”:

In many cases, using the first person pronoun can improve your writing, by offering the following benefits:

  • Assertiveness: In some cases you might wish to emphasize agency (who is doing what), as for instance if you need to point out how valuable your particular project is to an academic discipline or to claim your unique perspective or argument.
  • Clarity: Because trying to avoid the first person can lead to awkward constructions and vagueness, using the first person can improve your writing style.
  • Positioning yourself in the essay: In some projects, you need to explain how your research or ideas build on or depart from the work of others, in which case you’ll need to say “I,” “we,” “my,” or “our”; if you wish to claim some kind of authority on the topic, first person may help you do so.

Deciding whether “I” will help your style

Here is an example of how using the first person can make the writing clearer and more assertive:

Original example:

In studying American popular culture of the 1980s, the question of to what degree materialism was a major characteristic of the cultural milieu was explored.

Better example using first person:

In our study of American popular culture of the 1980s, we explored the degree to which materialism characterized the cultural milieu.

The original example sounds less emphatic and direct than the revised version; using “I” allows the writers to avoid the convoluted construction of the original and clarifies who did what.

Here is an example in which alternatives to the first person would be more appropriate:

As I observed the communication styles of first-year Carolina women, I noticed frequent use of non-verbal cues.

Better example:

A study of the communication styles of first-year Carolina women revealed frequent use of non-verbal cues.

In the original example, using the first person grounds the experience heavily in the writer’s subjective, individual perspective, but the writer’s purpose is to describe a phenomenon that is in fact objective or independent of that perspective. Avoiding the first person here creates the desired impression of an observed phenomenon that could be reproduced and also creates a stronger, clearer statement.

Here’s another example in which an alternative to first person works better:

As I was reading this study of medieval village life, I noticed that social class tended to be clearly defined.

This study of medieval village life reveals that social class tended to be clearly defined.

Although you may run across instructors who find the casual style of the original example refreshing, they are probably rare. The revised version sounds more academic and renders the statement more assertive and direct.

Here’s a final example:

I think that Aristotle’s ethical arguments are logical and readily applicable to contemporary cases, or at least it seems that way to me.

Better example

Aristotle’s ethical arguments are logical and readily applicable to contemporary cases.

In this example, there is no real need to announce that that statement about Aristotle is your thought; this is your paper, so readers will assume that the ideas in it are yours.

Determining whether to use “I” according to the conventions of the academic field

Which fields allow “I”?

The rules for this are changing, so it’s always best to ask your instructor if you’re not sure about using first person. But here are some general guidelines.

Sciences: In the past, scientific writers avoided the use of “I” because scientists often view the first person as interfering with the impression of objectivity and impersonality they are seeking to create. But conventions seem to be changing in some cases—for instance, when a scientific writer is describing a project she is working on or positioning that project within the existing research on the topic. Check with your science instructor to find out whether it’s o.k. to use “I” in their class.

Social Sciences: Some social scientists try to avoid “I” for the same reasons that other scientists do. But first person is becoming more commonly accepted, especially when the writer is describing their project or perspective.

Humanities: Ask your instructor whether you should use “I.” The purpose of writing in the humanities is generally to offer your own analysis of language, ideas, or a work of art. Writers in these fields tend to value assertiveness and to emphasize agency (who’s doing what), so the first person is often—but not always—appropriate. Sometimes writers use the first person in a less effective way, preceding an assertion with “I think,” “I feel,” or “I believe” as if such a phrase could replace a real defense of an argument. While your audience is generally interested in your perspective in the humanities fields, readers do expect you to fully argue, support, and illustrate your assertions. Personal belief or opinion is generally not sufficient in itself; you will need evidence of some kind to convince your reader.

Other writing situations: If you’re writing a speech, use of the first and even the second person (“you”) is generally encouraged because these personal pronouns can create a desirable sense of connection between speaker and listener and can contribute to the sense that the speaker is sincere and involved in the issue. If you’re writing a resume, though, avoid the first person; describe your experience, education, and skills without using a personal pronoun (for example, under “Experience” you might write “Volunteered as a peer counselor”).

A note on the second person “you”:

In situations where your intention is to sound conversational and friendly because it suits your purpose, as it does in this handout intended to offer helpful advice, or in a letter or speech, “you” might help to create just the sense of familiarity you’re after. But in most academic writing situations, “you” sounds overly conversational, as for instance in a claim like “when you read the poem ‘The Wasteland,’ you feel a sense of emptiness.” In this case, the “you” sounds overly conversational. The statement would read better as “The poem ‘The Wasteland’ creates a sense of emptiness.” Academic writers almost always use alternatives to the second person pronoun, such as “one,” “the reader,” or “people.”

Personal experience in academic writing

The question of whether personal experience has a place in academic writing depends on context and purpose. In papers that seek to analyze an objective principle or data as in science papers, or in papers for a field that explicitly tries to minimize the effect of the researcher’s presence such as anthropology, personal experience would probably distract from your purpose. But sometimes you might need to explicitly situate your position as researcher in relation to your subject of study. Or if your purpose is to present your individual response to a work of art, to offer examples of how an idea or theory might apply to life, or to use experience as evidence or a demonstration of an abstract principle, personal experience might have a legitimate role to play in your academic writing. Using personal experience effectively usually means keeping it in the service of your argument, as opposed to letting it become an end in itself or take over the paper.

It’s also usually best to keep your real or hypothetical stories brief, but they can strengthen arguments in need of concrete illustrations or even just a little more vitality.

Here are some examples of effective ways to incorporate personal experience in academic writing:

  • Anecdotes: In some cases, brief examples of experiences you’ve had or witnessed may serve as useful illustrations of a point you’re arguing or a theory you’re evaluating. For instance, in philosophical arguments, writers often use a real or hypothetical situation to illustrate abstract ideas and principles.
  • References to your own experience can explain your interest in an issue or even help to establish your authority on a topic.
  • Some specific writing situations, such as application essays, explicitly call for discussion of personal experience.

Here are some suggestions about including personal experience in writing for specific fields:

Philosophy: In philosophical writing, your purpose is generally to reconstruct or evaluate an existing argument, and/or to generate your own. Sometimes, doing this effectively may involve offering a hypothetical example or an illustration. In these cases, you might find that inventing or recounting a scenario that you’ve experienced or witnessed could help demonstrate your point. Personal experience can play a very useful role in your philosophy papers, as long as you always explain to the reader how the experience is related to your argument. (See our handout on writing in philosophy for more information.)

Religion: Religion courses might seem like a place where personal experience would be welcomed. But most religion courses take a cultural, historical, or textual approach, and these generally require objectivity and impersonality. So although you probably have very strong beliefs or powerful experiences in this area that might motivate your interest in the field, they shouldn’t supplant scholarly analysis. But ask your instructor, as it is possible that they are interested in your personal experiences with religion, especially in less formal assignments such as response papers. (See our handout on writing in religious studies for more information.)

Literature, Music, Fine Arts, and Film: Writing projects in these fields can sometimes benefit from the inclusion of personal experience, as long as it isn’t tangential. For instance, your annoyance over your roommate’s habits might not add much to an analysis of “Citizen Kane.” However, if you’re writing about Ridley Scott’s treatment of relationships between women in the movie “Thelma and Louise,” some reference your own observations about these relationships might be relevant if it adds to your analysis of the film. Personal experience can be especially appropriate in a response paper, or in any kind of assignment that asks about your experience of the work as a reader or viewer. Some film and literature scholars are interested in how a film or literary text is received by different audiences, so a discussion of how a particular viewer or reader experiences or identifies with the piece would probably be appropriate. (See our handouts on writing about fiction , art history , and drama for more information.)

Women’s Studies: Women’s Studies classes tend to be taught from a feminist perspective, a perspective which is generally interested in the ways in which individuals experience gender roles. So personal experience can often serve as evidence for your analytical and argumentative papers in this field. This field is also one in which you might be asked to keep a journal, a kind of writing that requires you to apply theoretical concepts to your experiences.

History: If you’re analyzing a historical period or issue, personal experience is less likely to advance your purpose of objectivity. However, some kinds of historical scholarship do involve the exploration of personal histories. So although you might not be referencing your own experience, you might very well be discussing other people’s experiences as illustrations of their historical contexts. (See our handout on writing in history for more information.)

Sciences: Because the primary purpose is to study data and fixed principles in an objective way, personal experience is less likely to have a place in this kind of writing. Often, as in a lab report, your goal is to describe observations in such a way that a reader could duplicate the experiment, so the less extra information, the better. Of course, if you’re working in the social sciences, case studies—accounts of the personal experiences of other people—are a crucial part of your scholarship. (See our handout on  writing in the sciences for more information.)

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write a Research Paper: the LEAP approach (+cheat sheet)

In this article I will show you how to write a research paper using the four LEAP writing steps. The LEAP academic writing approach is a step-by-step method for turning research results into a published paper .

The LEAP writing approach has been the cornerstone of the 70 + research papers that I have authored and the 3700+ citations these paper have accumulated within 9 years since the completion of my PhD. I hope the LEAP approach will help you just as much as it has helped me to make an real, tangible impact with my research.

What is the LEAP research paper writing approach?

I designed the LEAP writing approach not only for merely writing the papers. My goal with the writing system was to show young scientists how to first think about research results and then how to efficiently write each section of the research paper.

In other words, you will see how to write a research paper by first analyzing the results and then building a logical, persuasive arguments. In this way, instead of being afraid of writing research paper, you will be able to rely on the paper writing process to help you with what is the most demanding task in getting published – thinking.

The four research paper writing steps according to the LEAP approach:

LEAP research paper writing step 1: L

I will show each of these steps in detail. And you will be able to download the LEAP cheat sheet for using with every paper you write.

But before I tell you how to efficiently write a research paper, I want to show you what is the problem with the way scientists typically write a research paper and why the LEAP approach is more efficient.

How scientists typically write a research paper (and why it isn’t efficient)

Writing a research paper can be tough, especially for a young scientist. Your reasoning needs to be persuasive and thorough enough to convince readers of your arguments. The description has to be derived from research evidence, from prior art, and from your own judgment. This is a tough feat to accomplish.

The figure below shows the sequence of the different parts of a typical research paper. Depending on the scientific journal, some sections might be merged or nonexistent, but the general outline of a research paper will remain very similar.

Outline of a research paper, including Title, Abstract, Keywords, Introduction, Objective, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, References and Annexes

Here is the problem: Most people make the mistake of writing in this same sequence.

While the structure of scientific articles is designed to help the reader follow the research, it does little to help the scientist write the paper. This is because the layout of research articles starts with the broad (introduction) and narrows down to the specifics (results). See in the figure below how the research paper is structured in terms of the breath of information that each section entails.

How to write a research paper according to the LEAP approach

For a scientist, it is much easier to start writing a research paper with laying out the facts in the narrow sections (i.e. results), step back to describe them (i.e. write the discussion), and step back again to explain the broader picture in the introduction.

For example, it might feel intimidating to start writing a research paper by explaining your research’s global significance in the introduction, while it is easy to plot the figures in the results. When plotting the results, there is not much room for wiggle: the results are what they are.

Starting to write a research papers from the results is also more fun because you finally get to see and understand the complete picture of the research that you have worked on.

Most importantly, following the LEAP approach will help you first make sense of the results yourself and then clearly communicate them to the readers. That is because the sequence of writing allows you to slowly understand the meaning of the results and then develop arguments for presenting to your readers.

I have personally been able to write and submit a research article in three short days using this method.

Step 1: Lay Out the Facts

LEAP research paper writing step 1: Prepare charts and graphics, and describe what you see

You have worked long hours on a research project that has produced results and are no doubt curious to determine what they exactly mean. There is no better way to do this than by preparing figures, graphics and tables. This is what the first LEAP step is focused on – diving into the results.

How to p repare charts and tables for a research paper

Your first task is to try out different ways of visually demonstrating the research results. In many fields, the central items of a journal paper will be charts that are based on the data generated during research. In other fields, these might be conceptual diagrams, microscopy images, schematics and a number of other types of scientific graphics which should visually communicate the research study and its results to the readers. If you have reasonably small number of data points, data tables might be useful as well.

Tips for preparing charts and tables

  • Try multiple chart types but in the finished paper only use the one that best conveys the message you want to present to the readers
  • Follow the eight chart design progressions for selecting and refining a data chart for your paper: https://peerrecognized.com/chart-progressions
  • Prepare scientific graphics and visualizations for your paper using the scientific graphic design cheat sheet: https://peerrecognized.com/tools-for-creating-scientific-illustrations/

How to describe the results of your research

Now that you have your data charts, graphics and tables laid out in front of you – describe what you see in them. Seek to answer the question: What have I found?  Your statements should progress in a logical sequence and be backed by the visual information. Since, at this point, you are simply explaining what everyone should be able to see for themselves, you can use a declarative tone: The figure X demonstrates that…

Tips for describing the research results :

  • Answer the question: “ What have I found? “
  • Use declarative tone since you are simply describing observations

Step 2: Explain the results

LEAP research paper writing step 2: Define the message, discuss the results, write conclusions, refine the objective, and describe methodology

The core aspect of your research paper is not actually the results; it is the explanation of their meaning. In the second LEAP step, you will do some heavy lifting by guiding the readers through the results using logic backed by previous scientific research.

How to define the Message of a research paper

To define the central message of your research paper, imagine how you would explain your research to a colleague in 20 seconds . If you succeed in effectively communicating your paper’s message, a reader should be able to recount your findings in a similarly concise way even a year after reading it. This clarity will increase the chances that someone uses the knowledge you generated, which in turn raises the likelihood of citations to your research paper. 

Tips for defining the paper’s central message :

  • Write the paper’s core message in a single sentence or two bullet points
  • Write the core message in the header of the research paper manuscript

How to write the Discussion section of a research paper

In the discussion section you have to demonstrate why your research paper is worthy of publishing. In other words, you must now answer the all-important So what? question . How well you do so will ultimately define the success of your research paper.

Here are three steps to get started with writing the discussion section:

  • Write bullet points of the things that convey the central message of the research article (these may evolve into subheadings later on).
  • Make a list with the arguments or observations that support each idea.
  • Finally, expand on each point to make full sentences and paragraphs.

Tips for writing the discussion section:

  • What is the meaning of the results?
  • Was the hypothesis confirmed?
  • Write bullet points that support the core message
  • List logical arguments for each bullet point, group them into sections
  • Instead of repeating research timeline, use a presentation sequence that best supports your logic
  • Convert arguments to full paragraphs; be confident but do not overhype
  • Refer to both supportive and contradicting research papers for maximum credibility

How to write the Conclusions of a research paper

Since some readers might just skim through your research paper and turn directly to the conclusions, it is a good idea to make conclusion a standalone piece. In the first few sentences of the conclusions, briefly summarize the methodology and try to avoid using abbreviations (if you do, explain what they mean).

After this introduction, summarize the findings from the discussion section. Either paragraph style or bullet-point style conclusions can be used. I prefer the bullet-point style because it clearly separates the different conclusions and provides an easy-to-digest overview for the casual browser. It also forces me to be more succinct.

Tips for writing the conclusion section :

  • Summarize the key findings, starting with the most important one
  • Make conclusions standalone (short summary, avoid abbreviations)
  • Add an optional take-home message and suggest future research in the last paragraph

How to refine the Objective of a research paper

The objective is a short, clear statement defining the paper’s research goals. It can be included either in the final paragraph of the introduction, or as a separate subsection after the introduction. Avoid writing long paragraphs with in-depth reasoning, references, and explanation of methodology since these belong in other sections. The paper’s objective can often be written in a single crisp sentence.

Tips for writing the objective section :

  • The objective should ask the question that is answered by the central message of the research paper
  • The research objective should be clear long before writing a paper. At this point, you are simply refining it to make sure it is addressed in the body of the paper.

How to write the Methodology section of your research paper

When writing the methodology section, aim for a depth of explanation that will allow readers to reproduce the study . This means that if you are using a novel method, you will have to describe it thoroughly. If, on the other hand, you applied a standardized method, or used an approach from another paper, it will be enough to briefly describe it with reference to the detailed original source.

Remember to also detail the research population, mention how you ensured representative sampling, and elaborate on what statistical methods you used to analyze the results.

Tips for writing the methodology section :

  • Include enough detail to allow reproducing the research
  • Provide references if the methods are known
  • Create a methodology flow chart to add clarity
  • Describe the research population, sampling methodology, statistical methods for result analysis
  • Describe what methodology, test methods, materials, and sample groups were used in the research.

Step 3: Advertize the research

Step 3 of the LEAP writing approach is designed to entice the casual browser into reading your research paper. This advertising can be done with an informative title, an intriguing abstract, as well as a thorough explanation of the underlying need for doing the research within the introduction.

LEAP research paper writing step 3: Write introduction, prepare the abstract, compose title, and prepare highlights and graphical abstract

How to write the Introduction of a research paper

The introduction section should leave no doubt in the mind of the reader that what you are doing is important and that this work could push scientific knowledge forward. To do this convincingly, you will need to have a good knowledge of what is state-of-the-art in your field. You also need be able to see the bigger picture in order to demonstrate the potential impacts of your research work.

Think of the introduction as a funnel, going from wide to narrow, as shown in the figure below:

  • Start with a brief context to explain what do we already know,
  • Follow with the motivation for the research study and explain why should we care about it,
  • Explain the research gap you are going to bridge within this research paper,
  • Describe the approach you will take to solve the problem.

Context - Motivation - Research gap - Approach funnel for writing the introduction

Tips for writing the introduction section :

  • Follow the Context – Motivation – Research gap – Approach funnel for writing the introduction
  • Explain how others tried and how you plan to solve the research problem
  • Do a thorough literature review before writing the introduction
  • Start writing the introduction by using your own words, then add references from the literature

How to prepare the Abstract of a research paper

The abstract acts as your paper’s elevator pitch and is therefore best written only after the main text is finished. In this one short paragraph you must convince someone to take on the time-consuming task of reading your whole research article. So, make the paper easy to read, intriguing, and self-explanatory; avoid jargon and abbreviations.

How to structure the abstract of a research paper:

  • The abstract is a single paragraph that follows this structure:
  • Problem: why did we research this
  • Methodology: typically starts with the words “Here we…” that signal the start of own contribution.
  • Results: what we found from the research.
  • Conclusions: show why are the findings important

How to compose a research paper Title

The title is the ultimate summary of a research paper. It must therefore entice someone looking for information to click on a link to it and continue reading the article. A title is also used for indexing purposes in scientific databases, so a representative and optimized title will play large role in determining if your research paper appears in search results at all.

Tips for coming up with a research paper title:

  • Capture curiosity of potential readers using a clear and descriptive title
  • Include broad terms that are often searched
  • Add details that uniquely identify the researched subject of your research paper
  • Avoid jargon and abbreviations
  • Use keywords as title extension (instead of duplicating the words) to increase the chance of appearing in search results

How to prepare Highlights and Graphical Abstract

Highlights are three to five short bullet-point style statements that convey the core findings of the research paper. Notice that the focus is on the findings, not on the process of getting there.

A graphical abstract placed next to the textual abstract visually summarizes the entire research paper in a single, easy-to-follow figure. I show how to create a graphical abstract in my book Research Data Visualization and Scientific Graphics.

Tips for preparing highlights and graphical abstract:

  • In highlights show core findings of the research paper (instead of what you did in the study).
  • In graphical abstract show take-home message or methodology of the research paper. Learn more about creating a graphical abstract in this article.

Step 4: Prepare for submission

LEAP research paper writing step 4: Select the journal, fulfill journal requirements, write a cover letter, suggest reviewers, take a break and edit, address review comments.

Sometimes it seems that nuclear fusion will stop on the star closest to us (read: the sun will stop to shine) before a submitted manuscript is published in a scientific journal. The publication process routinely takes a long time, and after submitting the manuscript you have very little control over what happens. To increase the chances of a quick publication, you must do your homework before submitting the manuscript. In the fourth LEAP step, you make sure that your research paper is published in the most appropriate journal as quickly and painlessly as possible.

How to select a scientific Journal for your research paper

The best way to find a journal for your research paper is it to review which journals you used while preparing your manuscript. This source listing should provide some assurance that your own research paper, once published, will be among similar articles and, thus, among your field’s trusted sources.

can you use & in a research paper

After this initial selection of hand-full of scientific journals, consider the following six parameters for selecting the most appropriate journal for your research paper (read this article to review each step in detail):

  • Scope and publishing history
  • Ranking and Recognition
  • Publishing time
  • Acceptance rate
  • Content requirements
  • Access and Fees

How to select a journal for your research paper:

  • Use the six parameters to select the most appropriate scientific journal for your research paper
  • Use the following tools for journal selection: https://peerrecognized.com/journals
  • Follow the journal’s “Authors guide” formatting requirements

How to Edit you manuscript

No one can write a finished research paper on their first attempt. Before submitting, make sure to take a break from your work for a couple of days, or even weeks. Try not to think about the manuscript during this time. Once it has faded from your memory, it is time to return and edit. The pause will allow you to read the manuscript from a fresh perspective and make edits as necessary.

I have summarized the most useful research paper editing tools in this article.

Tips for editing a research paper:

  • Take time away from the research paper to forget about it; then returning to edit,
  • Start by editing the content: structure, headings, paragraphs, logic, figures
  • Continue by editing the grammar and language; perform a thorough language check using academic writing tools
  • Read the entire paper out loud and correct what sounds weird

How to write a compelling Cover Letter for your paper

Begin the cover letter by stating the paper’s title and the type of paper you are submitting (review paper, research paper, short communication). Next, concisely explain why your study was performed, what was done, and what the key findings are. State why the results are important and what impact they might have in the field. Make sure you mention how your approach and findings relate to the scope of the journal in order to show why the article would be of interest to the journal’s readers.

I wrote a separate article that explains what to include in a cover letter here. You can also download a cover letter template from the article.

Tips for writing a cover letter:

  • Explain how the findings of your research relate to journal’s scope
  • Tell what impact the research results will have
  • Show why the research paper will interest the journal’s audience
  • Add any legal statements as required in journal’s guide for authors

How to Answer the Reviewers

Reviewers will often ask for new experiments, extended discussion, additional details on the experimental setup, and so forth. In principle, your primary winning tactic will be to agree with the reviewers and follow their suggestions whenever possible. After all, you must earn their blessing in order to get your paper published.

Be sure to answer each review query and stick to the point. In the response to the reviewers document write exactly where in the paper you have made any changes. In the paper itself, highlight the changes using a different color. This way the reviewers are less likely to re-read the entire article and suggest new edits.

In cases when you don’t agree with the reviewers, it makes sense to answer more thoroughly. Reviewers are scientifically minded people and so, with enough logical and supported argument, they will eventually be willing to see things your way.

Tips for answering the reviewers:

  • Agree with most review comments, but if you don’t, thoroughly explain why
  • Highlight changes in the manuscript
  • Do not take the comments personally and cool down before answering

The LEAP research paper writing cheat sheet

Imagine that you are back in grad school and preparing to take an exam on the topic: “How to write a research paper”. As an exemplary student, you would, most naturally, create a cheat sheet summarizing the subject… Well, I did it for you.

This one-page summary of the LEAP research paper writing technique will remind you of the key research paper writing steps. Print it out and stick it to a wall in your office so that you can review it whenever you are writing a new research paper.

The LEAP research paper writing cheat sheet

Now that we have gone through the four LEAP research paper writing steps, I hope you have a good idea of how to write a research paper. It can be an enjoyable process and once you get the hang of it, the four LEAP writing steps should even help you think about and interpret the research results. This process should enable you to write a well-structured, concise, and compelling research paper.

Have fund with writing your next research paper. I hope it will turn out great!

Learn writing papers that get cited

The LEAP writing approach is a blueprint for writing research papers. But to be efficient and write papers that get cited, you need more than that.

My name is Martins Zaumanis and in my interactive course Research Paper Writing Masterclass I will show you how to  visualize  your research results,  frame a message  that convinces your readers, and write  each section  of the paper. Step-by-step.

And of course – you will learn to respond the infamous  Reviewer No.2.

Research Paper Writing Masterclass by Martins Zaumanis

Hey! My name is Martins Zaumanis and I am a materials scientist in Switzerland ( Google Scholar ). As the first person in my family with a PhD, I have first-hand experience of the challenges starting scientists face in academia. With this blog, I want to help young researchers succeed in academia. I call the blog “Peer Recognized”, because peer recognition is what lifts academic careers and pushes science forward.

Besides this blog, I have written the Peer Recognized book series and created the Peer Recognized Academy offering interactive online courses.

Related articles:

Six journal selection steps

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Writing a Research Paper

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The Research Paper

There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, students will find that they can achieve great things through their research and writing.

The pages in this section cover the following topic areas related to the process of writing a research paper:

  • Genre - This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic - This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses themselves.
  • Identifying an Audience - This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin - This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.

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Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

Marco pautasso.

1 Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE), CNRS, Montpellier, France

2 Centre for Biodiversity Synthesis and Analysis (CESAB), FRB, Aix-en-Provence, France

Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications [1] . For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively [2] . Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every single new paper relevant to their interests [3] . Thus, it is both advantageous and necessary to rely on regular summaries of the recent literature. Although recognition for scientists mainly comes from primary research, timely literature reviews can lead to new synthetic insights and are often widely read [4] . For such summaries to be useful, however, they need to be compiled in a professional way [5] .

When starting from scratch, reviewing the literature can require a titanic amount of work. That is why researchers who have spent their career working on a certain research issue are in a perfect position to review that literature. Some graduate schools are now offering courses in reviewing the literature, given that most research students start their project by producing an overview of what has already been done on their research issue [6] . However, it is likely that most scientists have not thought in detail about how to approach and carry out a literature review.

Reviewing the literature requires the ability to juggle multiple tasks, from finding and evaluating relevant material to synthesising information from various sources, from critical thinking to paraphrasing, evaluating, and citation skills [7] . In this contribution, I share ten simple rules I learned working on about 25 literature reviews as a PhD and postdoctoral student. Ideas and insights also come from discussions with coauthors and colleagues, as well as feedback from reviewers and editors.

Rule 1: Define a Topic and Audience

How to choose which topic to review? There are so many issues in contemporary science that you could spend a lifetime of attending conferences and reading the literature just pondering what to review. On the one hand, if you take several years to choose, several other people may have had the same idea in the meantime. On the other hand, only a well-considered topic is likely to lead to a brilliant literature review [8] . The topic must at least be:

  • interesting to you (ideally, you should have come across a series of recent papers related to your line of work that call for a critical summary),
  • an important aspect of the field (so that many readers will be interested in the review and there will be enough material to write it), and
  • a well-defined issue (otherwise you could potentially include thousands of publications, which would make the review unhelpful).

Ideas for potential reviews may come from papers providing lists of key research questions to be answered [9] , but also from serendipitous moments during desultory reading and discussions. In addition to choosing your topic, you should also select a target audience. In many cases, the topic (e.g., web services in computational biology) will automatically define an audience (e.g., computational biologists), but that same topic may also be of interest to neighbouring fields (e.g., computer science, biology, etc.).

Rule 2: Search and Re-search the Literature

After having chosen your topic and audience, start by checking the literature and downloading relevant papers. Five pieces of advice here:

  • keep track of the search items you use (so that your search can be replicated [10] ),
  • keep a list of papers whose pdfs you cannot access immediately (so as to retrieve them later with alternative strategies),
  • use a paper management system (e.g., Mendeley, Papers, Qiqqa, Sente),
  • define early in the process some criteria for exclusion of irrelevant papers (these criteria can then be described in the review to help define its scope), and
  • do not just look for research papers in the area you wish to review, but also seek previous reviews.

The chances are high that someone will already have published a literature review ( Figure 1 ), if not exactly on the issue you are planning to tackle, at least on a related topic. If there are already a few or several reviews of the literature on your issue, my advice is not to give up, but to carry on with your own literature review,

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Object name is pcbi.1003149.g001.jpg

The bottom-right situation (many literature reviews but few research papers) is not just a theoretical situation; it applies, for example, to the study of the impacts of climate change on plant diseases, where there appear to be more literature reviews than research studies [33] .

  • discussing in your review the approaches, limitations, and conclusions of past reviews,
  • trying to find a new angle that has not been covered adequately in the previous reviews, and
  • incorporating new material that has inevitably accumulated since their appearance.

When searching the literature for pertinent papers and reviews, the usual rules apply:

  • be thorough,
  • use different keywords and database sources (e.g., DBLP, Google Scholar, ISI Proceedings, JSTOR Search, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science), and
  • look at who has cited past relevant papers and book chapters.

Rule 3: Take Notes While Reading

If you read the papers first, and only afterwards start writing the review, you will need a very good memory to remember who wrote what, and what your impressions and associations were while reading each single paper. My advice is, while reading, to start writing down interesting pieces of information, insights about how to organize the review, and thoughts on what to write. This way, by the time you have read the literature you selected, you will already have a rough draft of the review.

Of course, this draft will still need much rewriting, restructuring, and rethinking to obtain a text with a coherent argument [11] , but you will have avoided the danger posed by staring at a blank document. Be careful when taking notes to use quotation marks if you are provisionally copying verbatim from the literature. It is advisable then to reformulate such quotes with your own words in the final draft. It is important to be careful in noting the references already at this stage, so as to avoid misattributions. Using referencing software from the very beginning of your endeavour will save you time.

Rule 4: Choose the Type of Review You Wish to Write

After having taken notes while reading the literature, you will have a rough idea of the amount of material available for the review. This is probably a good time to decide whether to go for a mini- or a full review. Some journals are now favouring the publication of rather short reviews focusing on the last few years, with a limit on the number of words and citations. A mini-review is not necessarily a minor review: it may well attract more attention from busy readers, although it will inevitably simplify some issues and leave out some relevant material due to space limitations. A full review will have the advantage of more freedom to cover in detail the complexities of a particular scientific development, but may then be left in the pile of the very important papers “to be read” by readers with little time to spare for major monographs.

There is probably a continuum between mini- and full reviews. The same point applies to the dichotomy of descriptive vs. integrative reviews. While descriptive reviews focus on the methodology, findings, and interpretation of each reviewed study, integrative reviews attempt to find common ideas and concepts from the reviewed material [12] . A similar distinction exists between narrative and systematic reviews: while narrative reviews are qualitative, systematic reviews attempt to test a hypothesis based on the published evidence, which is gathered using a predefined protocol to reduce bias [13] , [14] . When systematic reviews analyse quantitative results in a quantitative way, they become meta-analyses. The choice between different review types will have to be made on a case-by-case basis, depending not just on the nature of the material found and the preferences of the target journal(s), but also on the time available to write the review and the number of coauthors [15] .

Rule 5: Keep the Review Focused, but Make It of Broad Interest

Whether your plan is to write a mini- or a full review, it is good advice to keep it focused 16 , 17 . Including material just for the sake of it can easily lead to reviews that are trying to do too many things at once. The need to keep a review focused can be problematic for interdisciplinary reviews, where the aim is to bridge the gap between fields [18] . If you are writing a review on, for example, how epidemiological approaches are used in modelling the spread of ideas, you may be inclined to include material from both parent fields, epidemiology and the study of cultural diffusion. This may be necessary to some extent, but in this case a focused review would only deal in detail with those studies at the interface between epidemiology and the spread of ideas.

While focus is an important feature of a successful review, this requirement has to be balanced with the need to make the review relevant to a broad audience. This square may be circled by discussing the wider implications of the reviewed topic for other disciplines.

Rule 6: Be Critical and Consistent

Reviewing the literature is not stamp collecting. A good review does not just summarize the literature, but discusses it critically, identifies methodological problems, and points out research gaps [19] . After having read a review of the literature, a reader should have a rough idea of:

  • the major achievements in the reviewed field,
  • the main areas of debate, and
  • the outstanding research questions.

It is challenging to achieve a successful review on all these fronts. A solution can be to involve a set of complementary coauthors: some people are excellent at mapping what has been achieved, some others are very good at identifying dark clouds on the horizon, and some have instead a knack at predicting where solutions are going to come from. If your journal club has exactly this sort of team, then you should definitely write a review of the literature! In addition to critical thinking, a literature review needs consistency, for example in the choice of passive vs. active voice and present vs. past tense.

Rule 7: Find a Logical Structure

Like a well-baked cake, a good review has a number of telling features: it is worth the reader's time, timely, systematic, well written, focused, and critical. It also needs a good structure. With reviews, the usual subdivision of research papers into introduction, methods, results, and discussion does not work or is rarely used. However, a general introduction of the context and, toward the end, a recapitulation of the main points covered and take-home messages make sense also in the case of reviews. For systematic reviews, there is a trend towards including information about how the literature was searched (database, keywords, time limits) [20] .

How can you organize the flow of the main body of the review so that the reader will be drawn into and guided through it? It is generally helpful to draw a conceptual scheme of the review, e.g., with mind-mapping techniques. Such diagrams can help recognize a logical way to order and link the various sections of a review [21] . This is the case not just at the writing stage, but also for readers if the diagram is included in the review as a figure. A careful selection of diagrams and figures relevant to the reviewed topic can be very helpful to structure the text too [22] .

Rule 8: Make Use of Feedback

Reviews of the literature are normally peer-reviewed in the same way as research papers, and rightly so [23] . As a rule, incorporating feedback from reviewers greatly helps improve a review draft. Having read the review with a fresh mind, reviewers may spot inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and ambiguities that had not been noticed by the writers due to rereading the typescript too many times. It is however advisable to reread the draft one more time before submission, as a last-minute correction of typos, leaps, and muddled sentences may enable the reviewers to focus on providing advice on the content rather than the form.

Feedback is vital to writing a good review, and should be sought from a variety of colleagues, so as to obtain a diversity of views on the draft. This may lead in some cases to conflicting views on the merits of the paper, and on how to improve it, but such a situation is better than the absence of feedback. A diversity of feedback perspectives on a literature review can help identify where the consensus view stands in the landscape of the current scientific understanding of an issue [24] .

Rule 9: Include Your Own Relevant Research, but Be Objective

In many cases, reviewers of the literature will have published studies relevant to the review they are writing. This could create a conflict of interest: how can reviewers report objectively on their own work [25] ? Some scientists may be overly enthusiastic about what they have published, and thus risk giving too much importance to their own findings in the review. However, bias could also occur in the other direction: some scientists may be unduly dismissive of their own achievements, so that they will tend to downplay their contribution (if any) to a field when reviewing it.

In general, a review of the literature should neither be a public relations brochure nor an exercise in competitive self-denial. If a reviewer is up to the job of producing a well-organized and methodical review, which flows well and provides a service to the readership, then it should be possible to be objective in reviewing one's own relevant findings. In reviews written by multiple authors, this may be achieved by assigning the review of the results of a coauthor to different coauthors.

Rule 10: Be Up-to-Date, but Do Not Forget Older Studies

Given the progressive acceleration in the publication of scientific papers, today's reviews of the literature need awareness not just of the overall direction and achievements of a field of inquiry, but also of the latest studies, so as not to become out-of-date before they have been published. Ideally, a literature review should not identify as a major research gap an issue that has just been addressed in a series of papers in press (the same applies, of course, to older, overlooked studies (“sleeping beauties” [26] )). This implies that literature reviewers would do well to keep an eye on electronic lists of papers in press, given that it can take months before these appear in scientific databases. Some reviews declare that they have scanned the literature up to a certain point in time, but given that peer review can be a rather lengthy process, a full search for newly appeared literature at the revision stage may be worthwhile. Assessing the contribution of papers that have just appeared is particularly challenging, because there is little perspective with which to gauge their significance and impact on further research and society.

Inevitably, new papers on the reviewed topic (including independently written literature reviews) will appear from all quarters after the review has been published, so that there may soon be the need for an updated review. But this is the nature of science [27] – [32] . I wish everybody good luck with writing a review of the literature.


Many thanks to M. Barbosa, K. Dehnen-Schmutz, T. Döring, D. Fontaneto, M. Garbelotto, O. Holdenrieder, M. Jeger, D. Lonsdale, A. MacLeod, P. Mills, M. Moslonka-Lefebvre, G. Stancanelli, P. Weisberg, and X. Xu for insights and discussions, and to P. Bourne, T. Matoni, and D. Smith for helpful comments on a previous draft.

Funding Statement

This work was funded by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) through its Centre for Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity data (CESAB), as part of the NETSEED research project. The funders had no role in the preparation of the manuscript.

Research Paper Style Tips: First Person Pronouns (Can You Use "I"?)

Divya Bhansali headshot

By Divya Bhansali

Columbia University; Biomedical Engineering PhD candidate

7 minute read

Learning how to write a research paper can be a daunting task, especially when you're faced with seemingly endless rules and guidelines. One of the most commonly debated topics in research paper writing is the use of first-person pronouns, particularly "I." Many high school students wonder “can you use I in a research paper,” and the answer isn't a simple yes or no. In this blog post, we'll explore the use of first-person pronouns in research papers and provide some style tips to help you navigate this aspect of academic writing.

Understanding the Academic Landscape

Before we dive into the "I" dilemma, it's essential to understand the conventions of scientific writing. In academic circles, there's a strong tradition of formal and objective writing. The purpose of this formality is to maintain a professional, unbiased, and credible tone in research papers. This is why many instructors or institutions discourage using first-person pronouns in academic writing.

However, students often ask, can I use I in a research paper? It's important to recognize that not all research papers and fields of study adhere to the same strict guidelines. While addressing this question, it's equally crucial to consider how to write a thesis statement for a research paper, as this sets the tone for objectivity and formality. 

Additionally, formulating clear and effective research questions early in your study can guide your exploration and argumentation, ensuring your research stays on track. Depending on your discipline, the guidelines may vary. For instance, in some scientific or technical fields, you might rarely see first-person pronouns, while in certain humanities and social science papers, their usage may be more flexible.

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When Can You Use "I"?

#1 personal reflection.

Some research papers, particularly those in the social sciences or humanities, may require you to provide personal insights or reflections. In such cases, using "I" is not only allowed but encouraged. This allows you to share your perspective and thoughts on the subject matter.

Example: If you're writing a research paper in psychology about the impact of childhood experiences on adult mental health, you might say, "I believe that early trauma can have lasting effects on an individual's psychological well-being."

Explanation: In this context, using "I" allows you to express your viewpoint and hypothesis based on your research findings. It shows that you are actively engaging with the subject matter and offering your perspective.

#2 Author's Position

If your paper revolves around your unique perspective or your research methods and experiences, using "I" can be justified. For example, when discussing the methodology of your research, you might say, "I conducted surveys to gather data."

Example: If you're conducting a sociological study on a specific community and its cultural practices, you can write, "I conducted interviews with community members to understand their cultural values."

Explanation: Here, "I" is used to highlight your role as the researcher and your active involvement in data collection. It clarifies that the paper is based on your research methods and experiences.

#3 Personal Anecdotes

When relevant, you can include personal anecdotes or stories that support your argument. For example, if you're writing about the importance of biodiversity and you've had a personal encounter that illustrates your point, using "I" can be appropriate.

Example: Suppose you're writing a paper on the conservation of endangered species, and you've had a personal encounter with a rare animal. You could say, "During my visit to the national park, I had the privilege of seeing the elusive Himalayan snow leopard."

Explanation: In this instance, sharing your personal experience through "I" adds a human element to your scientific paper. It can make your research more relatable and engaging for the reader, especially when your own experiences are relevant to the topic.

#4 Subjectivity

Some research topics inherently require a degree of subjectivity, such as literature analysis or personal essays. In these cases, using "I" is almost a necessity to convey your unique viewpoint.

Example: If you're analyzing a piece of literature, such as a novel or poem, you might write, "I found the protagonist's internal struggles to be a compelling representation of the human condition."

Explanation: Literature analysis often involves subjective interpretations and personal responses to the text. In this case, using "I" is essential to convey your unique perspective and insights.

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When to Avoid "I"

#1 objective research.

If your research paper aims to maintain a completely objective tone and avoid personal bias, it's best to avoid using "I." This is common in scientific papers, where the focus is on data and results rather than the author's perspective.

Example: In a scientific paper on the effects of a new drug on a specific medical condition, you would avoid using "I" and write, "The data indicates a statistically significant improvement in patient outcomes."

Explanation: In scientific research, the focus is on the data and results rather than the researcher's personal opinions or experiences. Using "I" in such papers can introduce subjectivity and bias.

# 2 Academic Tradition

As mentioned earlier, certain academic fields and institutions have a strong tradition of avoiding first-person pronouns. When in doubt, check with your instructor or the guidelines provided by your educational institution.

Example: In some academic institutions, it's a tradition to avoid first-person pronouns in research papers, regardless of the field. In such cases, your writing might look like this: "This study aims to examine the relationship between variables A and B."

Explanation: Following academic traditions is essential. If your institution or instructor specifies that "I" should be avoided, you should adhere to those guidelines.

Even in papers where first-person pronouns are acceptable, it's important to use them sparingly. Your writing should remain focused on the research topic, and excessive use of "I" can make your academic paper sound self-centered and detract from the substance of your argument.

Example: "I believe that this theory is supported by existing literature. I also think that further research in this area is needed because I find it fascinating."

Explanation: While using "I" is acceptable in moderation, overusing it can make your writing sound self-centered and detract from the substance of your argument. In this example, the repeated use of "I" makes the writing less concise and less formal.

Striking the Right Balance

Balancing the use of "I" in research papers is an art that takes practice. You should use it when it adds value to your argument or when required by your field, but avoid it when it's unnecessary or disrupts the flow of your paper. To ensure you strike the right balance:

Revise and Edit : After completing your academic paper, carefully review it for instances where "I" can be replaced with more formal language. This might involve rephrasing sentences or changing the structure of your arguments. As part of this process, consider how to write a research paper introduction to ensure it sets the right tone without the use of first-person pronouns.

Peer Review : Seek feedback from peers or mentors who are experienced in research paper writing. They can help identify instances where the use of "I" may be appropriate or needs adjustment.

Follow Guidelines : Always follow the specific guidelines provided by your instructor or institution. If they explicitly allow or disallow the use of "I," be sure to comply. It’s important to keep your use of “I” consistent with your research paper abstract , too!

In conclusion, the use of first-person pronouns, like "I," in research papers is not a simple yes or no proposition. It depends on your field, the nature of your research, and the specific guidelines provided. Remember that clarity, precision, and adherence to the conventions of your discipline are key. By striking the right balance, you can confidently navigate the use of "I" in your research papers while maintaining a professional and credible tone. Furthermore, understanding how to write a research paper outline can enhance your ability to organize your thoughts and maintain a coherent flow throughout your paper. Or if you’re writing a STEM research paper outline , check out our guide. Happy researching and writing!


Words Not To Use in a Research Paper

  • Posted on February 7, 2023

A research paper is a piece of scientific writing . It is either presented by a student or a researcher talking about original research on a particular issue. So if you’re a student or a novice at academic writing , ensure your focus remains on the reader. If you employ the right phrases and words, you can spark your readers’ attention in your research report.

Note that the right phrases will establish the proper formal tone of your research paper . The type of words you use can affect the grades of your paper and the outcome of the research. Therefore, refrain from using unnecessary words in your writing, as it will fail to meet professional expectations. Ensure you use words and include the findings of the research. So, ensure you familiarize yourself with the words not to use in a research paper .

What Words & Phrases To Avoid in Academic Writing

Sometimes, you may feel stressed about meeting the word count . Do not use padding. Adding content that is not necessary will bring down the level of your writing. Academic writing needs to be clear, concise, and error-free.

Using unnecessary words or abbreviations makes your academic papers low quality. Padded content is also readily visible, so readers will quickly note the unnecessary words in your academic essay . You can avoid expressions that you can use in informal writing , vague or unsophisticated words. Some of the unsophisticated types of words you should avoid in your formal academic writing are below.

  • A lot of, a couple of
  • Stuff/ things

Such words are clumsy and redundant and can make your writing mumble. Here is a table that includes an overview, alternatives, and some unnecessary research paper words to avoid.

can you use & in a research paper

What Else Should Be Avoided

Apart from the words discussed above, there are other words students use in academic writing that are unnecessary. Avoid using cliché, jargon, or slang words in your writing. Additionally, avoid using abbreviations in your research paper, as they are unnecessary.  

Here are other words not to use in a research paper for it to remain formal. 

Avoiding clichés is practically a cliché in itself. However, it is a crucial piece of writing guidance. clichés are unoriginal and make your writing less compelling . Using clichés in academic writing will harm your credibility. Your reader will know that you lack originality if you use a cliché.

Using clichés may make readers snort or put down your paper. Your hard work on a project will be pointless if it contains clichés.

Overused clichés in a research paper can also give the impression that you lack imagination or are sluggish. Furthermore, since clichés are frequently tied to a certain language and culture, you should avoid using them in your writing. For readers from other countries, clichés could be a communication barrier.

Some clichés you should use in your research paper include

  • We all know
  • Sleep like a baby.

Such phrases are examples of overused clichés that have long since lost meaning. Although they make a feeble attempt to appear intellectual, clichés come out as hollow.

The foundation of how a reader or listener evaluates you as a writer or speaker is your words. You must carefully select your words when you write an academic paper or talk in a business interview. Always keep your audience in mind. Slang may be understandable to some readers, but they are unlikely to enjoy this writing style.

Using slang terms or phrases in formal writing is improper and insulting. As a result, here are slang words to avoid in writing : 

In academic writing, avoid using slang or colloquial terms. Your words are the foundation of how a reader or listener evaluates you as a writer or speaker.

Jargon expressions run the chance of losing your audience due to wordiness or the usage of specialized terminology. Using jargon significantly undermines your intention to convey clearly in a research paper. Writers should be aware of their intended audience and familiarize themselves with their language. After that, write to the audience in a language they will easily understand. Are you still wondering what jargon words not to use in a research paper ? Worry no more!

Here are some examples of jargon words you should refrain from using.

  • Boil the ocean


Abbreviations are short versions of words or phrases. It is improper to use abbreviations in academic writing. A few abbreviations are acceptable to use in your research paper, though. You should refrain from using the following abbreviations in your research paper:

  • Instead of using, e.g. and, i.e., use for example or for instance.
  • Avoid using “govt.” or “depts.” You may use the words department or government.
  • You should also refrain from using NB. You may substitute it with “note that.”

In your research report, you can use abbreviations when writing professional titles. For instance, you might shorten titles like Mr., Dr., and Prof. If you use these abbreviations along with the person’s name, they are acceptable.

Exceptions to the Rules

Personal remarks and reflective reports can occasionally be less formal. You might not have to adhere to these rules to the letter while creating these kinds of pieces. In contrast to the rest of the dissertation, the prologue and acknowledgments frequently have a less professional and more informal tone.

Avoid using unnecessary words to increase the word count when writing a research paper. Jargon, clichés, and modifiers are words not to use in a research paper as they don’t improve your writing. A research paper in a broadened essay that explains your analysis or review. It is polite to avoid using certain words or to proofread your work before submitting it.

For your work to receive the proper credit, you must adhere to this protocol.   Additionally, make sure your study paper is original. For writers who need to confirm the originality of their work, Quetext is quite helpful. 

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He is dangerous in word, deed and action

He puts self over country, he loathes the laws we live by, donald trump is unfit to lead.

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values . It is separate from the newsroom.

Next week, for the third time in eight years, Donald Trump will be nominated as the Republican Party’s candidate for president of the United States. A once great political party now serves the interests of one man, a man as demonstrably unsuited for the office of president as any to run in the long history of the Republic, a man whose values, temperament, ideas and language are directly opposed to so much of what has made this country great.

It is a chilling choice against this national moment. For more than two decades, large majorities of Americans have said they are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, and the post-Covid era of stubborn inflation, high interest rates, social division and political stagnation has left many voters even more frustrated and despondent.

can you use & in a research paper

The Republican Party once pursued electoral power in service to solutions for such problems, to building “the shining city on a hill,” as Ronald Reagan liked to say. Its vision of the United States — embodied in principled public servants like George H.W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney — was rooted in the values of freedom, sacrifice, individual responsibility and the common good. The party’s conception of those values was reflected in its longstanding conservative policy agenda, and today many Republicans set aside their concerns about Mr. Trump because of his positions on immigration, trade and taxes. But the stakes of this election are not fundamentally about policy disagreements. The stakes are more foundational: what qualities matter most in America’s president and commander in chief.

Mr. Trump has shown a character unworthy of the responsibilities of the presidency. He has demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people. Instead of a cogent vision for the country’s future, Mr. Trump is animated by a thirst for political power: to use the levers of government to advance his interests, satisfy his impulses and exact retribution against those who he thinks have wronged him.

He is, quite simply, unfit to lead.

The Democrats are rightly engaged in their own debate about whether President Biden is the right person to carry the party’s nomination into the election, given widespread concerns among voters about his age-related fitness. This debate is so intense because of legitimate concerns that Mr. Trump may present a danger to the country, its strength, security and national character — and that a compelling Democratic alternative is the only thing that would prevent his return to power. It is a national tragedy that the Republicans have failed to have a similar debate about the manifest moral and temperamental unfitness of their standard-bearer, instead setting aside their longstanding values, closing ranks and choosing to overlook what those who worked most closely with the former president have described as his systematic dishonesty, corruption, cruelty and incompetence.

That task now falls to the American people. We urge voters to see the dangers of a second Trump term clearly and to reject it. The stakes and significance of the presidency demand a person who has essential qualities and values to earn our trust, and on each one, Donald Trump fails.

Moral Fitness Matters

can you use & in a research paper

Presidents are confronted daily with challenges that require not just strength and conviction but also honesty, humility, selflessness, fortitude and the perspective that comes from sound moral judgment.

If Mr. Trump has these qualities, Americans have never seen them in action on behalf of the nation’s interests. His words and actions demonstrate a disregard for basic right and wrong and a clear lack of moral fitness for the responsibilities of the presidency.

He lies blatantly and maliciously, embraces racists , abuses women and has a schoolyard bully’s instinct to target society’s most vulnerable. He has delighted in coarsening and polarizing the town square with ever more divisive and incendiary language. Mr. Trump is a man who craves validation and vindication, so much that he would prefer a hostile leader’s lies to his own intelligence agencies’ truths and would shake down a vulnerable ally for short-term political advantage . His handling of everything from routine affairs to major crises was undermined by his blundering combination of impulsiveness, insecurity and unstudied certainty.

This record shows what can happen to a country led by such a person: America’s image, credibility and cohesion were relentlessly undermined by Mr. Trump during his term.

None of his wrongful actions are so obviously discrediting as his determined and systematic attempts to undermine the integrity of elections — the most basic element of any democracy — an effort that culminated in an insurrection at the Capitol to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Trump incited a mob to violence with hateful lies, then stood by for hours as hundreds of his supporters took his word and stormed the Capitol with the aim of terrorizing members of Congress into keeping him in office. He praised these insurrectionists and called them patriots; today he gives them a starring role at campaign rallies, playing a rendition of the national anthem sung by inmates involved with Jan. 6., and he has promised to consider pardoning the rioters if re-elected. He continues to wrong the country and its voters by lying about the 2020 election, branding it stolen, despite the courts, the Justice Department and Republican state officials disputing him. No man fit for the presidency would flog such pernicious and destructive lies about democratic norms and values, but the Trumpian hunger for vindication and retribution has no moral center.

To vest such a person with the vast powers of the presidency is to endanger American interests and security at home as well as abroad. The nation’s commander in chief must uphold the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” It is the closest thing that this secular nation has to a sacred trust. The president has several duties and powers that are his alone: He has the sole authority to launch a nuclear weapon. He has the authority to send American troops into harm’s way and to authorize the use of lethal force against individuals and other nations. Americans who serve in the military also take an oath to defend the Constitution, and they rely on their commander in chief to take that oath as seriously as they do.

Mr. Trump has shown, repeatedly, that he does not. On numerous occasions, he asked his defense secretary and commanders in the American armed forces to violate that oath. On other occasions, he demanded that members of the military violate norms that preserve the dignity of the armed services and protect the military from being used for political purposes. They largely refused these illegal and immoral orders, as the oath requires.

The lack of moral grounding undermines Mr. Trump even in areas where voters view him as stronger and trust him more than Mr. Biden, like immigration and crime. Veering into a kind of brutal excess that is, at best, immoral and, at worst, unconstitutional, he has said that undocumented immigrants were “ poisoning the blood of our country ,” and his advisers say he would aim to round them up in mass detention camps and end birthright citizenship . He has indicated that, if faced with episodes of rioting or crime surges, he would unilaterally send troops into American cities. He has asked aides if the United States could shoot migrants below the waist to slow them down, and he has said that he would use the Insurrection Act to deploy the military against protesters.

During his time in office, none of those things happened because there were enough people in military leadership with the moral fitness to say “no” to such illegal orders. But there are good reasons to worry about whether that would happen again, as Mr. Trump works harder to surround himself with people who enable rather than check his most insidious impulses.

The Supreme Court, with its ruling on July 1 granting presidents “absolute immunity” for official acts, has removed an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s worst impulses: the threat of legal consequences. What remains is his own sense of right and wrong. Our country’s future is too precious to rely on such a broken moral compass.

Principled Leadership Matters

can you use & in a research paper

Republican presidents and presidential candidates have used their leadership at critical moments to set a tone for society to live up to. Mr. Reagan faced down totalitarianism in the 1980s, appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court and worked with Democrats on bipartisan tax and immigration reforms. George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act and decisively defended an ally, Kuwait, against Iraqi aggression. George W. Bush, for all his failures after Sept. 11, did not stoke hate against or demonize Muslims or Islam.

As a candidate during the 2008 race, Mr. McCain spoke out when his fellow conservatives spread lies about his opponent, Barack Obama. Mr. Romney was willing to sacrifice his standing and influence in the party he once represented as a presidential nominee, by boldly calling out Mr. Trump’s failings and voting for his removal from office.

These acts of leadership are what it means to put country first, to think beyond oneself.

Mr. Trump has demonstrated contempt for these American ideals. He admires autocrats, from Viktor Orban to Vladimir Putin to Kim Jong-un. He believes in the strongman model of power — a leader who makes things happen by demanding it, compelling agreement through force of will or personality. In reality, a strongman rules through fear and the unprincipled use of political might for self-serving ends, imposing poorly conceived policies that smother innovation, entrepreneurship, ideas and hope.

During his four years in office, Mr. Trump tried to govern the United States as a strongman would, issuing orders or making decrees on Twitter. He announced sudden changes in policy — on who can serve in the military , on trade policy, on how the United States deals with North Korea or Russia — without consulting experts on his staff about how these changes would affect America. Indeed, nowhere did he put his political or personal interests above the national interest more tragically than during the pandemic , when he faked his way through a crisis by touting conspiracy theories and pseudoscience while ignoring the advice of his own experts and resisting basic safety measures that would have saved lives.

He took a similar approach to America’s strategic relationships abroad. Mr. Trump lost the trust of America’s longstanding allies, especially in NATO, leaving Europe less secure and emboldening the far right and authoritarian leaders in Europe, Latin America and Asia. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, leaving that country, already a threat to the world, more dangerous, thanks to a revived program that has achieved near-weapons-grade uranium.

In a second term, his willingness to appease Mr. Putin would leave Ukraine’s future as a democratic and independent country in doubt. Mr. Trump implies that he could single-handedly end the catastrophic war in Gaza but has no real plan. He has suggested that in a second term he’d increase tariffs on Chinese goods to 60 percent or higher and that he would put a 10 percent tariff on all imported goods, moves that would raise prices for American consumers and reduce innovation by allowing U.S. industries to rely on protectionism instead.

The worst of the Trump administration’s policies were often blocked by Congress, by court challenges and by the objections of honorable public servants who stepped in to thwart his demands when they were irresponsible or did not follow the law. When Mr. Trump wanted an end to Obamacare, a single Republican senator, Mr. McCain, saved it, preserving health care for millions of Americans. Mr. Trump demanded that James Comey, his F.B.I. director, pledge loyalty to him and end an investigation into a political ally; Mr. Comey refused. Scientists and public health officials called out and corrected his misinformation about climate science and Covid. The Supreme Court sided against the Trump administration more times than any other president since at least Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A second Trump administration would be different. He intends to fill his administration with sycophants, those who have shown themselves willing to obey Mr. Trump’s demands or those who lack the strength to stand up to him. He wants to remove those who would be obstacles to his agenda, by enacting an order to make it easier to fire civil servants and replace them with those more loyal to him.

This means not only that Americans would lose the benefit of their expertise but also that America would be governed in a climate of fear, in which government employees must serve the interests of the president rather than the public. All cabinet secretaries follow a president’s lead, but Mr. Trump envisions a nation in which public service as Americans understand it would cease to exist — where individual civil servants and departments could no longer make independent decisions and where research by scientists and public health experts and investigations by the Justice Department and others in federal law enforcement would be more malleable to the demands of the White House.

Another term under Mr. Trump’s leadership would risk doing permanent damage to our government. As Mr. Comey, a longtime Republican, wrote in a 2019 guest essay for Times Opinion, “Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from.” Very few who serve under him can avoid this fate “because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites,” Mr. Comey wrote. “Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values. And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul.” America will get nowhere with a strongman. It needs a strong leader.

Character Matters

can you use & in a research paper

Character is the quality that gives a leader credibility, authority and influence. During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump’s petty attacks on his opponents and their families led many Republicans to conclude that he lacked such character. Other Republicans, including those who supported the former president’s policies in office, say they can no longer in good conscience back him for the presidency. “It’s a job that requires the kind of character he just doesn’t have,” Paul Ryan, a former Republican House speaker, said of Mr. Trump in May .

Those who know Mr. Trump’s character best — the people he appointed to serve in the most important positions of his White House — have expressed grave doubts about his fitness for office.

His former chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, described Mr. Trump as “a person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.” Bill Barr, whom Mr. Trump appointed as attorney general, said of him , “He will always put his own interest and gratifying his own ego ahead of everything else, including the country’s interest.” James Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general who served as defense secretary, said , “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”

Mike Pence, Mr. Trump’s vice president, has disavowed him. No other vice president in modern American history has done this. “I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,” Mr. Pence has said . “And anyone who asked someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.”

These are hardly exceptions. In any other American administration, a single cabinet-level defection is rare. But an unprecedented number of Mr. Trump’s appointees have publicly criticized his leadership, opposed his 2024 presidential candidacy or ducked questions about his fitness for a second term. More than a dozen of his most senior appointees — those he chose to work alongside him and who saw his performance most closely — have spoken out against him, serving as witnesses about the kind of leader he is.

There are many ways to judge leaders’ character; one is to see whether they accept responsibility for their actions. As a general rule, Mr. Trump abhors accountability. If he loses, the election is rigged. If he is convicted, it’s because the judges are out to get him. If he doesn’t get his way in a deal, as happened multiple times with Congress in his term, he shuts down the government or threatens to.

Americans do not expect their presidents to be perfect; many of them have exhibited hubris, self-regard, arrogance and other character flaws. But the American system of government is more than just the president: It is a system of checks and balances, and it relies on everyone in government to intervene when a president’s personal failings might threaten the common good.

Mr. Trump tested those limits as president, and little has changed about him in the four years since he lost re-election. He tries to intimidate anyone with the temerity to testify as a witness against him. He attacks the integrity of judges who are doing their duty to hold him accountable to the law. He mocks those he dislikes and lies about those who oppose him and targets Republicans for defeat if they fail to bend the knee.

It may be tempting for Americans to believe that a second Trump presidency would be much like the first, with the rest of government steeled to protect the country and resist his worst impulses. But the strongman needs others to be weak, and Mr. Trump is surrounding himself with yes men.

The American public has a right to demand more from their president and those who would serve under him.

A President’s Words Matter

can you use & in a research paper

When America saw white nationalists and neo-Nazis march through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and activists were rallying against racism, Mr. Trump spoke of “very fine people on both sides.” When he was pressed about the white supremacist Proud Boys during a 2020 debate, Mr. Trump told them to “stand back and stand by,” a request that, records show, they took literally in deciding to storm Congress. This winter, the former president urged Iowans to vote for him and score a victory over their fellow Americans — “all of the liars, cheaters, thugs, perverts, frauds, crooks, freaks, creeps.” And in a Veterans Day speech in New Hampshire, he used the word “vermin,” a term he has deployed to describe both immigrants and political opponents.

What a president says reflects on the United States and the kind of society we aspire to be.

In 2022 this board raised an urgent alarm about the rising threat of political violence in the United States and what Americans could do to stop it. At the time, Mr. Trump was preparing to declare his intention to run for president again, and the Republican Party was in the middle of a fight for control, between Trumpists and those who were ready to move on from his destructive leadership. This struggle within the party has consequences for all Americans. “A healthy democracy requires both political parties to be fully committed to the rule of law and not to entertain or even tacitly encourage violence or violent speech,” we wrote.

A large faction of one party in our country fails that test, and that faction, Mr. Trump’s MAGA extremists, now control the party and its levers of power. There are many reasons his conquest of the Republican Party is bad for American democracy, but one of the most significant is that those extremists have often embraced violent speech or the belief in using violence to achieve their political goals. This belief led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and it has resulted in a rising number of threats against judges, elected officials and prosecutors.

This threat cannot be separated from Mr. Trump’s use of language to encourage violence, to dehumanize groups of people and to spread lies. A study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, released in October 2022, came to the conclusion that MAGA Republicans (as opposed to those who identified themselves as traditional Republicans) “are more likely to hold extreme and racist beliefs, to endorse political violence, to see such violence as likely to occur and to predict that they will be armed under circumstances in which they consider political violence to be justified.”

The Republican Party had an opportunity to renounce Trumpism; it has submitted to it. Republican leaders have had many opportunities to repudiate his violent discourse and make clear that it should have no place in political life; they failed to. Sizable numbers of voters in Republican primaries abandoned Mr. Trump for other candidates, and independent and undecided voters have said that Mr. Trump’s language has alienated them from his candidacy.

But with his nomination by his party all but assured, Mr. Trump has become even more reckless in employing extreme and violent speech, such as his references to executing generals who raise questions about his actions. He has argued, before the Supreme Court, that he should have the right to assassinate a political rival and face no consequences.

The Rule of Law Matters

can you use & in a research paper

The danger from these foundational failings — of morals and character, of principled leadership and rhetorical excess — is never clearer than in Mr. Trump’s disregard for rule of law, his willingness to do long-term damage to the integrity of America’s systems for short-term personal gain.

As we’ve noted, Mr. Trump’s disregard for democracy was most evident in his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and to encourage violence to stop the peaceful transfer of power. What stood in his way were the many patriotic Americans, at every level of government, who rejected his efforts to bully them into complying with his demands to change election results. Instead, they followed the rules and followed the law. This respect for the rule of law, not the rule of men, is what has allowed American democracy to survive for more than 200 years.

In the four years since losing the election, Mr. Trump has become only more determined to subvert the rule of law, because his whole theory of Trumpism boils down to doing whatever he wants without consequence. Americans are seeing this unfold as Mr. Trump attempts to fight off numerous criminal charges. Not content to work within the law to defend himself, he is instead turning to sympathetic judges — including two Supreme Court justices with apparent conflicts over the 2020 election and Jan. 6-related litigation. The playbook: delay federal prosecution until he can win election and end those legal cases. His vision of government is one that does what he wants, rather than a government that operates according to the rule of law as prescribed by the Constitution, the courts and Congress.

As divided as America is, people across the political spectrum generally recoil from rigged rules, favoritism, self-dealing and abuse of power. Our country has been so stable for so long in part because most Americans and most American leaders follow the rules or face the consequences.

So much in the past two decades has tested these norms in our society — the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, the failures that led to the 2008 financial crisis and the recession that followed, the pandemic and all the fractures and inequities that it revealed. We need a recommitment to the rule of law and the values of fair play. This election is a moment for Americans to decide whether we will keep striving for those ideals.

Mr. Trump rejects them. If he is re-elected, America will face a new and precarious future, one that it may not be prepared for. It is a future in which intelligence agencies would be judged not according to whether they preserved national security but by whether they served Mr. Trump’s political agenda. It means that prosecutors and law enforcement officials would be judged not according to whether they follow the law to keep Americans safe but by whether they obey his demands to “go after” political enemies. It means that public servants would be judged not according to their dedication or skill but by whether they show sufficient loyalty to him and his MAGA agenda.

Even if Mr. Trump’s vague policy agenda would not be fulfilled, he could rule by fear. The lesson of other countries shows that when a bureaucracy is politicized or pressured, the best public servants will run for the exits.

This is what has already happened in Mr. Trump’s Republican Party, with principled leaders and officials retiring, quitting or facing ouster. In a second term, he intends to do that to the whole of government.

Election Day is less than four months away. The case against Mr. Trump is extensive, and this board urges Americans to perform a simple act of civic duty in an election year: Listen to what Mr. Trump is saying, pay attention to what he did as president and allow yourself to truly inhabit what he has promised to do if returned to office.

Voters frustrated by inflation and immigration or attracted by the force of Mr. Trump’s personality should pause and take note of his words and promises. They have little to do with unity and healing and a lot to do with making the divisions and anger in our society wider and more intense than they already are.

The Republican Party is making its choice next week; soon all Americans will be able to make their own choice. What would Mr. Trump do in a second term? He has told Americans who he is and shown them what kind of leader he would be.

When someone fails so many foundational tests, you don’t give him the most important job in the world.

From top, photographs and video by Damon Winter/The New York Times (2) and Jay Turner Frey Seawell (5).

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Writing Research Papers

  • What Types of References Are Appropriate?

When writing a research paper, there are many different types of sources that you might consider citing.  Which are appropriate?  Which are less appropriate?  Here we discuss the different types of sources that you may wish to use when working on a research paper.   

Please note that the following represents a general set of recommended guidelines that is not specific to any class and does not represent department policy.  The types of allowable sources may vary by course and instructor.

Highly appropriate: peer-reviewed journal articles

In general, you should primarily cite peer-reviewed journal articles in your research papers.  Peer-reviewed journal articles are research papers that have been accepted for publication after having undergone a rigorous editorial review process.  During that review process, the article was carefully evaluated by at least one journal editor and a group of reviewers (usually scientists that are experts in the field or topic under investigation).  Often the article underwent revisions before it was judged to be satisfactory for publication. 

Most articles submitted to high quality journals are not accepted for publication.  As such, research that is successfully published in a respected peer-reviewed journal is generally regarded as higher quality than research that is not published or is published elsewhere, such as in a book, magazine, or on a website.  However, just because a study was published in a peer-reviewed journal does not mean that it is free from error or that its conclusions are correct.  Accordingly, it is important to critically read and carefully evaluate all sources, including peer-reviewed journal articles.

Tips for finding and using peer-reviewed journal articles:

  • Many databases, such as PsycINFO, can be set to only search for peer-reviewed journal articles. Other search engines, such as Google Scholar, typically include both peer-reviewed and not peer-reviewed articles in search results, and thus should be used with greater caution. 
  • Even though a peer-reviewed journal article is, by definition, a source that has been carefully vetted through an editorial process, it should still be critically evaluated by the reader. 

Potentially appropriate: books, encyclopedias, and other scholarly works

Another potential source that you might use when writing a research paper is a book, encyclopedia, or an official online source (such as demographic data drawn from a government website).  When relying on such sources, it is important to carefully consider its accuracy and trustworthiness.  For example, books vary in quality; most have not undergone any form of review process other than basic copyediting.  In many cases, a book’s content is little more than the author’s informed or uninformed opinion. 

However, there are books that have been edited prior to publication, as is the case with many reputable encyclopedias; also, many books from academic publishers are comprised of multiple chapters, each written by one or more researchers, with the entire volume carefully reviewed by one or more editors.  In those cases, the book has undergone a form of peer review, albeit often not as rigorous as that for a peer-reviewed journal article.

Tips for using books, encyclopedias, and other scholarly works:

  • When using books, encyclopedias, and other scholarly works (that is, works written or produced by researchers, official agencies, or corporations), it is important to very carefully evaluate the quality of that source.
  • If the source is an edited volume (in which case in the editor(s) will be listed on the cover), is published by a reputable source (such as Academic Press, MIT Press, and others), or is written by a major expert in the field (such as a researcher with a track record of peer-reviewed journal articles on the subject), then it is more likely to be trustworthy.
  • For online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia, an instructor may or may not consider that an acceptable source (by default, don’t assume that a non-peer reviewed source will be considered acceptable). It is best to ask the instructor for clarification. 1

Usually inappropriate: magazines, blogs, and websites  

Most research papers can be written using only peer-reviewed journal articles as sources.  However, for many topics it is possible to find a plethora of sources that have not been peer-reviewed but also discuss the topic.  These may include articles in popular magazines or postings in blogs, forums, and other websites.  In general, although these sources may be well-written and easy to understand, their scientific value is often not as high as that of peer-reviewed articles.  Exceptions include some magazine and newspaper articles that might be cited in a research paper to make a point about public awareness of a given topic, to illustrate beliefs and attitudes about a given topic among journalists, or to refer to a news event that is relevant to a given topic. 

Tips for using magazines, blogs, and websites:

  • Avoid such references if possible. You should primarily focus on peer-reviewed journal articles as sources for your research paper.  High quality research papers typically do not rely on non-academic and not peer-reviewed sources.
  • Refer to non-academic, not peer-reviewed sources sparingly, and if you do, be sure to carefully evaluate the accuracy and scientific merit of the source.

Downloadable Resources

  • How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
  • Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

  • Writing Research Paper Videos

Databases and Search Engines (may require connection to UCSD network)

  • Google Scholar
  • PubMed (NIH/NLM)
  • Web of Science  

UCSD Resources on Finding and Evaluating Sources

  • UCSD Library Databases A-Z
  • UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide: Start Page
  • UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide : Finding Articles
  • UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide : Evaluating Sources

External Resources

  • Critically Reading Journal Articles from PSU/ Colby College
  • How to Seriously Read a Journal Article from Science Magazine
  • How to Read Journal Articles from Harvard University
  • How to Read a Scientific Paper Infographic from Elsevier Publishing
  • Tips for searching PsycINFO from UC Berkeley Library
  • Tips for using PsycINFO effectively from the APA Student Science Council

1 Wikipedia articles vary in quality; the site has a peer review system and the very best articles ( Featured Articles ), which go through a multi-stage review process, rival those in traditional encyclopedias and are considered the highest quality articles on the site.

Prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology, graphic adapted from  t-x-generic-apply.svg , a public domain creation by the tango desktop project..

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  • Research Paper Structure
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  • Evaluating References and Taking Notes
  • Citing References
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MIT researchers introduce generative AI for databases

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A new tool makes it easier for database users to perform complicated statistical analyses of tabular data without the need to know what is going on behind the scenes.

GenSQL, a generative AI system for databases, could help users make predictions, detect anomalies, guess missing values, fix errors, or generate synthetic data with just a few keystrokes.

For instance, if the system were used to analyze medical data from a patient who has always had high blood pressure, it could catch a blood pressure reading that is low for that particular patient but would otherwise be in the normal range.

GenSQL automatically integrates a tabular dataset and a generative probabilistic AI model, which can account for uncertainty and adjust their decision-making based on new data.

Moreover, GenSQL can be used to produce and analyze synthetic data that mimic the real data in a database. This could be especially useful in situations where sensitive data cannot be shared, such as patient health records, or when real data are sparse.

This new tool is built on top of SQL, a programming language for database creation and manipulation that was introduced in the late 1970s and is used by millions of developers worldwide.

“Historically, SQL taught the business world what a computer could do. They didn’t have to write custom programs, they just had to ask questions of a database in high-level language. We think that, when we move from just querying data to asking questions of models and data, we are going to need an analogous language that teaches people the coherent questions you can ask a computer that has a probabilistic model of the data,” says Vikash Mansinghka ’05, MEng ’09, PhD ’09, senior author of a paper introducing GenSQL and a principal research scientist and leader of the Probabilistic Computing Project in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

When the researchers compared GenSQL to popular, AI-based approaches for data analysis, they found that it was not only faster but also produced more accurate results. Importantly, the probabilistic models used by GenSQL are explainable, so users can read and edit them.

“Looking at the data and trying to find some meaningful patterns by just using some simple statistical rules might miss important interactions. You really want to capture the correlations and the dependencies of the variables, which can be quite complicated, in a model. With GenSQL, we want to enable a large set of users to query their data and their model without having to know all the details,” adds lead author Mathieu Huot, a research scientist in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and member of the Probabilistic Computing Project.

They are joined on the paper by Matin Ghavami and Alexander Lew, MIT graduate students; Cameron Freer, a research scientist; Ulrich Schaechtle and Zane Shelby of Digital Garage; Martin Rinard, an MIT professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL); and Feras Saad ’15, MEng ’16, PhD ’22, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The research was recently presented at the ACM Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation.

Combining models and databases

SQL, which stands for structured query language, is a programming language for storing and manipulating information in a database. In SQL, people can ask questions about data using keywords, such as by summing, filtering, or grouping database records.

However, querying a model can provide deeper insights, since models can capture what data imply for an individual. For instance, a female developer who wonders if she is underpaid is likely more interested in what salary data mean for her individually than in trends from database records.

The researchers noticed that SQL didn’t provide an effective way to incorporate probabilistic AI models, but at the same time, approaches that use probabilistic models to make inferences didn’t support complex database queries.

They built GenSQL to fill this gap, enabling someone to query both a dataset and a probabilistic model using a straightforward yet powerful formal programming language.

A GenSQL user uploads their data and probabilistic model, which the system automatically integrates. Then, she can run queries on data that also get input from the probabilistic model running behind the scenes. This not only enables more complex queries but can also provide more accurate answers.

For instance, a query in GenSQL might be something like, “How likely is it that a developer from Seattle knows the programming language Rust?” Just looking at a correlation between columns in a database might miss subtle dependencies. Incorporating a probabilistic model can capture more complex interactions.   

Plus, the probabilistic models GenSQL utilizes are auditable, so people can see which data the model uses for decision-making. In addition, these models provide measures of calibrated uncertainty along with each answer.

For instance, with this calibrated uncertainty, if one queries the model for predicted outcomes of different cancer treatments for a patient from a minority group that is underrepresented in the dataset, GenSQL would tell the user that it is uncertain, and how uncertain it is, rather than overconfidently advocating for the wrong treatment.

Faster and more accurate results

To evaluate GenSQL, the researchers compared their system to popular baseline methods that use neural networks. GenSQL was between 1.7 and 6.8 times faster than these approaches, executing most queries in a few milliseconds while providing more accurate results.

They also applied GenSQL in two case studies: one in which the system identified mislabeled clinical trial data and the other in which it generated accurate synthetic data that captured complex relationships in genomics.

Next, the researchers want to apply GenSQL more broadly to conduct largescale modeling of human populations. With GenSQL, they can generate synthetic data to draw inferences about things like health and salary while controlling what information is used in the analysis.

They also want to make GenSQL easier to use and more powerful by adding new optimizations and automation to the system. In the long run, the researchers want to enable users to make natural language queries in GenSQL. Their goal is to eventually develop a ChatGPT-like AI expert one could talk to about any database, which grounds its answers using GenSQL queries.   

This research is funded, in part, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Google, and the Siegel Family Foundation.

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Solving an Important Issue in Academic Writing: Can You Use I in a Research Paper?

What will a professor answer if you ask: Can you say I in a research paper? Most professors will answer with a strict no to that question. But is this a one-dimensional issue? Isn’t there more depth to the problem?

You’re also wondering: why can’t I say I in a research paper, when I am the one writing it? There’s an interesting discussion around this issue. Most students would prefer more liberty in academic writing, so they can add uniqueness to their papers and express themselves in any way they want. The academic format is too strict and doesn’t allow for such flexibility.

When you’re working on projects that involve creative writing, using I is not a problem. A research paper, however, is more of an analytic and critical thinking paper, so the guidelines are different. In essence, you’re advised against using I, we, or you in this type of writing.


When you’re providing your own point of view, using I is the natural form of expression that comes to mind. Let’s take an example: we’ll assume you’re writing a research paper from social studies, focused on children living with alcoholic parents. In the introduction, you’ll be required to explain what this research paper is about.

In this research paper, I explored the negative influence that alcoholic parents have on the development on their children.

This seems like the simplest way to describe what your research is focused on. It is an acceptable form of academic writing, but it’s not the style that most academics recommend. This is what the recommended formulation would sound like:

Research has explored the negative influence that alcoholic parents have on the development on their children.

Yes; it sounds weird. No; it’s not how you usually talk when communicating with people around you. Yes; it involves some passive language. Still, it’s the recommended form of academic expression.

There are professors who insist that passive language must be avoided as much as possible, so the sentences will be clearer and more readable. Others, however, will insist on avoiding the use of first-person language. There’s a conflict of opinions here, so the best way to figure out how to write your research paper is by asking direct questions to your professor. When you need more detailed instructions, there’s no shame in asking for them.


  • If your professor or mentor says you should write in the most natural way, then it’s okay to use I in your research paper.
  • If you’re referring to the reader and yourself, or you were working on the research paper as part of a team, then it’s okay to use we, too.
  • It’s not OK to use we when you’re only referring to yourself.
  • If your professor tells you that using I is not appropriate in research paper writing, then you should definitely avoid that form of expression. This means you’ll have to rely on passive language, so you’ll avoid first-person writing.

What if you don’t get precise a precise guide for the style of your research paper? Maybe you cannot reach the professor or your email message gets no answer.

In that case, it’s best to stick to the traditional format of research paper writing. What does that mean? – Avoid using I and we!


When someone tells you that you should avoid using first person in academic writing, you probably need more information. The instruction is not enough to convince you that avoidance of I is the right way to write a research paper.

There are several factors that go in favor of this point of view:

  • In science and academics, the use of I is considered rather arrogant and self-serving. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not focused on yourself as a writer, but on the research as something that serves the reader and the academic community.
  • It’s best to avoid personal pronouns when engaged in persuasive writing. Saying I believe is not persuasive enough. Here’s another example: Based on my findings, I concluded that alcoholic parents have a negative influence over the emotional development of their children. The more convincing way to formulate that statement would be this one: Based on the research findings, it may be concluded that alcoholic parents have a negative influence over the emotional development of their children. You see? It’s important to focus on the research; not on yourself.
  • It’s also important to avoid the use of you when writing a research paper, since that form of expression is usually implemented when providing instructions or addressing the reader directly. In a research paper, you’re not doing that.


All these guidelines seem rather simple, don’t they? You’ll just avoid first and second person, and you’ll write your research paper in a format that’s acceptable for the academic community, right? Wrong!

The third person, as a generally used style in academic writing, can impose some difficulties. You cannot use he or she in a research paper, since you’re not writing about particular persons. Instead, you’ll use indefinite pronouns to refer to the subject, while avoiding feminine or masculine terminology.

Finally, there are always some exceptions from the rules, and that makes it even harder for you to find the right style. Who said that college or university education was easy?

Fortunately, there is a solution. You may always buy research paper online. You’ll find the perfect research paper writing service and you’ll collaborate with a professional PhD writer. The writer will take your requirements into consideration, and they will write the perfect research paper that meets all academic writing standards. The good news is that you can hire a professional service for a really affordable price!

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Can you use I in a research paper

In years past, the standard practice in pedagogy was a rejection of the use of I and other first-person pronouns in English language research papers and other academic writing. This position was based on the impression that writers will write with more clarity and objectivity if they avoid self-referencing via the use of I and other first-person words. A good example is the 1918 classic manual by Strunk and White titled “Elements of Style” which had the following advice for students:

“place yourself in the background,” writing “in a way that draws the reader’s attention to the sense and substance of the writing, rather than to the mood and temper of the author.” (70)

According to this traditional view, the ideal rhetorical stance for an academic writer that is undertaking any form of “scientific writing” is to sound dispassionate, impersonal, and (supposedly) unbiased. This doctrine was specifically true for scientific papers where the academic community had in a sense agreed upon that only a passive voice should be used and that the use of personal pronouns should be limited in general, where one avoids using both first person and second person pronouns.

Example of passive voice vs active voice 

 A: Active voice 

– We completed all of the experiments during the second quarter of 2022.

B: Passive voice 

– All of the experiments were completed during the second quarter of 2022.

However, in recent times, though some still hold on to the old doctrine of avoiding first-person pronouns, there has been a significant paradigm shift from this rigid position where the strict rules have to some degree been disregarded, and the use of I in research papers has become more widely accepted and practiced all over the world. For the proponents of the use of I and other first-person pronouns in research papers, the old objectivity argument is an illusion that does not exist.

Here is an aggregation of a few expert opinions about whether you can use I in a research paper.

The APA has a long-standing tradition of allowing the use of the first-person pronoun I in its research papers. More specifically, this policy dates as far back as the second edition of the APA Style Manual which was released in 1974 and has persisted to the manual’s seventh edition [section 4.16] introduced in 2019. Information on this policy can also be found in the seventh edition of the “Concise Guide to the APA Style” published in 2020 as well as on the APA website. According to the APA website:

“Many writers believe the ‘no first-person’ myth, which is that writers cannot use first-person pronouns such as “I” or “we” in an APA Style paper. This myth implies that writers must instead refer to themselves in the third person (e.g., as ‘the author’ or ‘the authors’). However, APA Style has no such rule against using first-person pronouns and actually encourages their use to avoid ambiguity in attribution!”

The association goes even further to provide some clarity by stating that:

“When writing an APA Style paper by yourself, use the first-person pronoun “I” to refer to yourself. And use the pronoun “we” when writing an APA Style paper with others.”

The examples below offer even more clarity as to how to use I in an APA research paper.

“I think……..”

“I believe………”

“I interviewed the participants………”

“I analyzed the data……….”

“My analysis of the data revealed……….”

“We concluded……..”

“Our results showed……..”

In summary, rather than say “The author [third person] interviewed the participants,” the APA allows the use of “I [first person] interviewed the participants.”

The “Advice from the editors” series of the MLA website leaves the use of I in a research paper entirely to the discretion of the writer. The editor in question – Michael Kandel recommends that:

“you [should] not look on the question of using “I” in an academic paper as a matter of a rule to follow, as part of a political agenda (see Webb), or even as the need to create a strategy to avoid falling into Scylla-or-Charybdis error. Let the first-person singular be, instead, a tool that you take out when you think it’s needed and that you leave in the toolbox when you think it’s not.”

Kandel then provides the following examples on when to use and when not to use I in a research paper:

Examples of when I may be necessary

  • You are narrating how you made a discovery, and the process of your discovering is important or at the very least entertaining.
  • You are describing how you teach something and how your students have responded or respond.
  • You disagree with another scholar and want to stress that you are not waving the banner of absolute truth.
  • You need I for rhetorical effect, to be clear, simple, or direct.

Examples of when I should not be considered

  • It’s off-putting to readers, generally, when I appears too often. You may not feel one bit modest, but remember the advice of Benjamin Franklin, still excellent, on the wisdom of preserving the semblance of modesty when your purpose is to convince others.
  • You are the author of your paper, so if an opinion is expressed in it, it is usually clear that this opinion is yours. You don’t have to add a phrase like, “I believe” or “it seems to me.”

Duke University

“Whether working within scientific disciplines, the social sciences, or the humanities, writers often struggle with how to infuse academic material with a unique, personal “voice.” Many writers have been told by teachers not to use the first-person perspective (indicated by words such as I, we, my, and our) when writing academic papers. However, in certain rhetorical situations, self-references can strengthen our argument and clarify our perspective. Depending on the genre and discipline of the academic paper, there may be some common conventions for use of the first person that the writer should observe.” “In addition to observing conventions for first-person references, writers should ask themselves, “What is my personal investment in this piece of work?” The question of whether or not to mention oneself—to I, or not to I—should be considered within this larger context. Although they are not always necessary or advisable, writers should be aware that self-references and use of a personal voice can potentially strengthen an academic argument, when used sparingly and selectively.”

University of British Columbia

“Academic writing is formal in tone and meant to be objective, using cited sources to support an argument or position. This assumes the focus is not the author, but rather the writing. The first-person point of view is considered informal, and is not encouraged in academic writing. First-person can appear to weaken the credibility of the writer in research and argument, as it reads as the writer’s personal opinion. The third-person point of view is often used as an alternative to [the] first-person as the “voice” in academic writing.

Examples of using effective alternatives to the first-person:

  • wrong example: I was reading a study about the rise of feudalism in medieval Europe, and I noticed that social class structure seemed to be clearly determined. (1st person)
  • correct example: This study about the rise of feudalism in medieval Europe reveals that social class structure was clearly determined. (3rd person)

In the wrong example, the focus is on the reader or author of the study while the correct example focuses directly on the study and its findings.

Some general examples for changing first person to third person:

University of Arizona

“ Personal writing, such as for a reflective essay, or a “personal response” discussion posting, can be written in the first person (using “I” and “me”) and may use personal opinions and anecdotes as evidence for the point you are trying to make. Most academic papers (Exposition, Persuasion, and Research Papers) should generally be written in [the] third-person, referring to other authors and researchers from credible and academic sources to support your argument rather than stating your own personal experiences.”

First-person example (only suitable for personal writing):

  • I think Shakespeare’s play  Hamlet is about the relationships between family members. I really liked the play, and in some ways, the characters reminded me of my own family.

Third-person correction (suitable for all other academic writing):

  • Shakespeare’s play  Hamlet  deals with the relationships between family members. In Examining Hamlet, Arnold Latimer describes these relationships as “conflicted” (2005, p. 327).

The pronouns I, me and my have been removed in the second example and instead replaced by academic sources as evidence.

The few sources cited above seem to indicate that even with the paradigm shift from avoidance to acceptance of the use of I in a research paper, opinion is still somewhat divided. However, if I were to take sides, I’ll adopt the advice from MLA and Duke University, both of which imply moderate discretionary use of I when it is most appropriate in a research paper. But as a student, it is very important to follow the instructions from your faculty, department, and/or course instructor. So, consider the following advice from APA:

            “As always, defer to your instructors’ guidelines when writing student papers. For example, your instructor may ask students to avoid using first-person language. If so, follow that guideline for work in your class.”

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Is it recommended to use "we" in research papers?

Is it recommended to use "we" in research papers? If not, should I always use passive voice?

  • writing-style
  • passive-voice

JSBձոգչ's user avatar

  • Related: Style Question: Use of “we” vs. “I” vs. passive voice in a dissertation –  herisson Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 16:12
  • 1 It's over a decade late, but I've seen multiple answers and comments here suggest use of subjects like "I" and "this researcher", so I feel obligated to point out that for papers going under double-blind peer review, use of such singular subjects can significantly bias the reviewer by tipping them off to the fact that there is only one author. This is effectively a form of de-anonymization, and it would make sense for some publishers to consider this a bad thing. In such a case, "we" might be preferred over "I"... but you should definitely check with the publisher to be sure. –  Alexander Guyer Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 5:57

3 Answers 3

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.

Jimi Oke's user avatar

  • 1 Thanks, Jimi. So you suggest that using "we" not a really bad thing as long as not overusing it, right? –  evergreen Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 23:46
  • @evergreen: Definitely. Take a look at the best papers out there; we is used liberally. It really cannot be avoided, especially in experimental research writing. –  Jimi Oke Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 23:48
  • 5 Since this is an English site, I feel obliged to point out that “at the end of the day” and “the bottom line is” are almost synonym, and anyway close enough in meaning to clash horribly when put next to each other. Furthermore, you simply can’t follow “the bottom line is” with “on the other hand”. That contradicts the whole meaning of “bottom line”. –  Konrad Rudolph Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 8:34
  • @Konrad: Great points you make here. I don't necessarily agree with your final sentences, but I guess I went for too much color, resulting in an overkill of idiomatic phrases. But this is not a well-written scientific paper :) And I guess it also shows that too much spice is usually not a good thing! –  Jimi Oke Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 1:13
  • There is alleged to be a research paper, by a single author, who wrote: "We with to thank our wife for her understanding..." –  GEdgar Commented Nov 14, 2011 at 15:22

APA (The American Psychology Association) has the following to say about the use of "we" (p. 69-70).

To avoid ambiguity, use a personal pronoun rather than the third person when describing steps taken in your experiment. Correct: "We reviewed the literature." Incorrect: "The authors reviewed the literature." [...] For clarity, restrict your use of "we" to refer only to yourself and your coauthors (use "I" if you are the sole author of the paper). Broader uses of "we" may leave your readers wondering to whom you are referring; instead, substitute an appropriate noun or clarity your usage: Correct: "Researchers usually classify birdsong on the basis of frequency and temporal structure of the elements. Incorrect: "We usually classify birdsong on the basis of frequency and temporal structure of the elements" Some alternatives to "we" to consider are "people", "humans", "researchers", "psychologists", "nurses", and so on. "We" is an appropriate and useful referent: Correct: "As behaviorists, we tend to dispute... Incorrect: "We tend to dispute..."

Community's user avatar

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.

The Raven's user avatar

  • 1 “It’s definitely OK” … well, if it’s merely OK, then what are the alternatives? Using the passive voice extensively sounds stilted and sometimes a pronoun simply cannot be involved. So is “I” OK when writing as a single author? In my experience, this is a complete no-go for various reasons. –  Konrad Rudolph Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 8:37
  • 5 As noted above, instead of "I," constructions such as "this researcher" are normal. "We" is a pronoun used when one author is writing on behalf of a team or group, but usually "the researchers" or the passive voice is used. It also depends on both the field and the journal in question. –  The Raven Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 12:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged pronouns writing-style passive-voice or ask your own question .

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can you use & in a research paper

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Using Images and Non-Textual Materials in Presentations, Papers, Theses, and Dissertations

  • Documenting and Citing Images
  • Finding Images - Select Sources

Documenting and Citing Images/Photographs and Their Sources

Please note that this is advice on best practices and considerations in documenting and citing images and non-print materials. It does not represent legal advice on obtaining permissions.

Generally, images copied from other sources should not be used without permissions in publications or for commercial purposes. Many American academic institutions require graduate students to archive their finished and approved theses/dissertations in institutional electronic repositories and/or institutional libraries and repositories, and/or to post them on Proquest's theses database. Unpublished theses and dissertations are a form of scholarly dissemination. Someone else's images, like someone else's ideas, words or music, should be used with critical commentary, and need to be identified and cited. If a thesis/dissertation is revised for publication,  waivers or permissions from the copyright holder(s) of the images and non-textual materials must be obtained. Best practices also apply to materials found on the internet and on social media, and, properly speaking, require identification, citation, and clearance of permissions, as relevant.

Use the following elements when identifying and citing an image, depending on the information you have available . It is your responsibility to do due diligence and document as much as possible about the image you are using:

  • Artist's/creator's name, if relevant;
  • Title of the work/image, if known, or description;
  • Ownership information (such as a person, estate, museum, library collection) and source of image;
  • Material, if known, particularly for art works;
  • Dimensions of the work, if known.

The Chicago Manual of Style online can be searched for norms on appropriate ways to caption illustrations, capitalize titles of visual works, or cite print materials that contain images.

Including images/photographs in a bibliography:

Best practice is to not include images within a bibliography of works cited. It is common, instead, to create a separate list of images (or figures) and their source, such as photographer (even if it's you) or collection. It may be useful to also include location, e.g., museum, geographic reference, address, etc.

Examples of Documenting Images

The image below is scanned from a published book. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation, classroom session, or  paper/thesis, as follows:

can you use & in a research paper

[ Figure 1. This photograph from 1990 shows the Monument against Fascism designed by Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, Hamburg, 1986-1993. Image from James Young, ed.,  Art of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in History (New York: Prestel, 1994), 70]

If you need to use this image in a published work, you will have to seek permission. For example, the book from which this image was scanned should have a section on photo credits which would help you identify the person/archive holding this image.

The image below was found through Google Images and downloaded from the internet. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation,  classroom session, or paper/thesis, as follows:

can you use & in a research paper

[Figure 2. This image shows the interior of Bibliotheca Alexandrina designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta in 2001. Image downloaded from https://mgkhs.com/gallery/alexandria in March 2016.]

If you want to use this image in a published work, you will have to do your best to track down its source to request permission to use. The web site or social media site where you found the image may not be an appropriate source, since it is common for people to repost images without attribution. Just because "everyone does it" does not mean that you should be using such materials without attribution or documentation. In this specific example, you may need to write to the photographer or to the architecture firm. If you have done due diligence and were unable to find the source, or have not received a response, you may be able to use an image found on the internet with appropriate documentation in a publication.

The image below was downloaded from a digitized historic collection of photographs held by an institutional archive. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation,  classroom session, or paper/thesis, as follows:

can you use & in a research paper

[Figure 3. In the 1920s the urban landscape of Los Angeles started to change, as various developers began building multi-family apartment houses in sections previously zoned for single family dwellings. Seen in this photograph by Dick Whittington is the Warrington apartment building, which was completed in 1928, surrounded by older single family structures. Downloaded from the USC Digital Library in February 2016]

I f you plan to use this photograph in a publication, seek permission from the library/institution from whose digital archive you downloaded the image. Contact information is usually found in the record for the image.

The image below was taken by the author. It can be used in a critical context within a presentation, classroom session , paper/thesis, or a publication* as follows:

can you use & in a research paper

[Figure 4. Genex Tower, also known as West City Gate, is a residential tower located in New Belgrade. This example of late 20th century brutalist-style architecture was designed in 1977 by Mihajlo Mitrović. Photographed by the author in 2013.]

*Please note, if you re-photographed someone else's photograph or a work of art, or if you re-photographed a published image, you may not be able to publish your photograph without first seeking permission or credit for its content.  If you have done due diligence and were unable to find the source or have not received a response, you may be able to use your image with appropriate documentation.

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What do research organizations think about open access publishing?

by Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

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A new report by COAlition S presents findings and recommendations on open publishing (open access) based on a large consultation among 11,600 researchers from around the world. The report , "'Towards Responsible Publishing': Findings from a global stakeholder consultation," was posted on 3 July on the Zenodo repository.

The report 's findings point to support for TRP ("towards responsible publishing") principles on preprint, open peer review and open licensing. Furthermore, the survey findings underline the need for a global collaboration to change recognition and reward mechanisms.

This is particularly about cooperation between research funders, research organizations and universities. There is also an expressed desire to shift spending within the scholarly communication system towards more responsible publishing practices.

From November 2023 to May 2024, insights were gathered from researchers, research organizations and learned societies and academic associations through an online survey , focus groups and submitted feedback; for example, on how they view open publication practices, including publishing preprints and open peer review.

Other key stakeholders such as publishers and publishing infrastructure providers also provided input. Research Consulting and the Leiden University's Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) conducted the survey. In the coming period, cOAlition S members will consult the report and come up with a response around the end of 2024.

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How to refer to other studies or literature in the different sections of a research paper

By charlesworth author services.

  • Charlesworth Author Services
  • 07 October, 2021

There are many articles which discuss how you can include and discuss existing studies and research in the literature review section of a paper. However, in addition to the literature review , there are many other opportunities to discuss or engage with prior studies in your research. This article offers guidance on how to include other studies or literature in different sections in a research paper.

Engaging with literature in the Introduction

Prior studies are often mentioned in the Introduction , generally as high-level summaries without much detail. Although some people may choose not to use existing literature or research to motivate a study, this is not an uncommon practice. Researchers sometimes rely on prior studies to emphasise the importance of the current study – for example, in challenging a standing argument or addressing an outstanding gap . Prior studies are also often discussed to build the foundation of the arguments of the research paper in question. 

Working with previous studies in the Methodology

It is also common practice to refer to prior literature in the Methodology. You may refer to prior studies as you design the study, collect and/or select data and perform the analysis. If this is the case, it is important to explain clearly why you are using and drawing from previous studies and how these are relevant to your own research paper. 

It is also possible to refer to prior studies to highlight the different methodological choices you have taken in your research. For example, there may be a comparison of the data sources, the sample or subject selections. Or, you might offer a comparison in the decisions made for different parameters, constructs, factors, model selection preferences and so on. Highlighting these differences can help you to clearly present new perspectives and why your study provides value to the field.

If you are offering a comparison between your current and previous studies, try to avoid solely comparing and contrasting, or simply stating what you have performed. What is more important is to explain why you have made these different decisions so that readers can understand the rationale behind your methodological decisions and your project design .

Referring to the literature in the Discussion and Conclusion

It is always a good idea to refer to prior studies and existing literature in the Discussion or Conclusion sections. This is a good time to reiterate the arguments, research questions/hypotheses and objectives that you introduced in the earlier sections of the paper and to discuss your results and findings .

Integrating other relevant literature into your Discussion serves two key purposes . First, it outlines what has already been achieved in prior studies. Second, you can explain how your study builds on this existing work to advance the knowledge in the field . 

Sometimes, through this discussion, you can also demonstrate why or how your findings are the same as or different from prior studies. 

Three common mistakes to avoid

When forging connections between prior studies and your own research paper, it is important to be aware of three common mistakes that authors make.

  • Some researchers sometimes focus too much on the existing literature , so that their research paper does not, ultimately, seem to provide many new insights. 
  • Because of the way authors might present and discuss prior studies in the Introduction, readers may become distracted or be led to raise more questions that are not relevant to the present research paper. [ Tip : In this and the above instances, it is advisable that you ensure your discussion of the literature is relevant at all times to the specific issues that you are discussing in each section and does not overshadow the main idea(s) in the research paper.]
  • Although you can critique prior studies to highlight the unique approach or key message of your study, it is a good practice to avoid subjective assessments, so as not to introduce any personal biases into your discussion of either the literature or your own research. 

In conclusion

Remember that engagement with the literature serves primarily to set the scene and contextualise your own research . It should provide enough information for your reader to understand the relevance and significance of your study, but not take over the main focus of the paper.

Read next (fifth/final) in series: Difference between a literature review and a critical review

Read previous (third) in series: Deciding what to include and exclude as you begin to write your literature review

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Propounding "Structured innovative thinking techniques for Social Sciences Research": Why this can be a game changer in social sciences research

17 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2024

Sujay Rao Mandavilli


Date Written: July 09, 2024

The starting point of this paper is a very brief overview and review of the concepts and postulates of our previously published paper "Baking innovative and creative thinking techniques into scientific method: Towards innovative and creative techniques as an intrinsic part of scientific method for higher scientific and research output", which was published by us in the early part of 2024. We then also review and summarize various existing innovative and creative research techniques such as the six hat thinking techniques and lateral thinking techniques, and then proceed to overview our approach which was called the "Structured innovative thinking techniques for Social Sciences Research". This approach is suitably expanded upon and forms the logical basis of this entire paper. There are multiple points of interface with our earlier papers to varying degrees, and these include our papers on twenty-first century intellectualism, the eight pillars of social science research methods and techniques, and the theory of paradoxes, which we have published in the recent past, albeit to a much smaller extent and degree. We believe that this paper will add enormous value to science in general, and catapult scientific activity to a much higher league. It is as such in tandem with our broader globalization of science movement.

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Language Editing

Is it acceptable to use “we” in scientific papers?

Some of us were taught in school that the use of first-person personal pronouns makes scientific writing subjective. But it’s not true. Using we or I in a research paper does not always shift the spotlight away from the research. And writing in the third person or using passive voice does not make a piece of research writing objective. So, if a reviewer or thesis advisor tells you to remove all first-person references from your manuscript, know that it is not incorrect to use I or we in a paper, despite what many people believe.

So, the short answer to the question in the title is yes. It is acceptable to use we in your paper to refer to you and your co-authors. Whether you use first person pronouns or not is a writing style choice.

Of course, if your publisher’s guidelines for authors say “don’t use I or we in your manuscript”, avoid using I or we when there are valid alternatives. When the publication of your paper is at stake, don’t argue with the journal editor on matters of writing style. It’s not worth the candle. The good news is that most peer-reviewed journals allow the use of first-person pronouns.

The authorial we (or I ) in scientific papers is not only acceptable but also effective in some cases—for example, when passive voice may introduce ambiguity . For example, compare these two sentences:

Three analyses were conducted by the researchers.

We conducted three analyses.

In the first sentence, it is not clear who the researchers are. Are they the authors of the study or other researchers? However, there is no ambiguity in the second sentence.

Also, it’s natural to write in the first person about a research you and your co-authors personally conducted. Compare

We found an old manuscript

The authors of this paper found an old manuscript

an old manuscript was found .

Finally, writing in the first person is more persuasive than writing impersonal prose, as Helen Sword says in Stylish Academic Writing :

“When we muzzle the personal voice, we risk subverting our whole purpose as researchers, which is to foster change by communicating new knowledge to our intended audience in the most effective and persuasive way possible.”

If you’re not sure whether you should use we in scientific writing, write in a way you’re comfortable with. But avoid awkward expressions such as to the best knowledge of the authors of this paper or the analysis conducted by the authors of this study . Sometimes there is no better option than using first-person pronouns in academic writing. Finally, if you still have doubts, get other people’s opinion.

Do you need a freelance editor for a scientific paper? Send me a message at [email protected].

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About Cristina N.

A freelance editor and writer with a keen interest in science, nature, and communication, I love to craft articles that help and inspire people.

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Experimental research on the supply of working fluid for fixed diamond wire slicing based on ultrasonic capillary effect.

can you use & in a research paper

1. Introduction

2. experimental setup, 3. results and discussion, 3.1. effects of the parallel plate spacing d, 3.2. effect of the h, 3.3. effect of non-parallelism between two plates, 3.3.1. front-back sides not-parallelism, 3.3.2. up-down sides not-parallelism, 3.4. effects of the working fluid, 3.5. effect of working fluid temperature, 3.6. effect of ultrasonic vibration time, 4. conclusions.

  • With the help of ultrasonic vibration, a higher liquid rise height can be achieved by properly selecting parameters, which is a new strategy that helps improve liquid supply in fixed diamond wire slicing.
  • With the decrease in the spacing d (slitting width), the cavitation bubbles in the parallel plates decrease and the liquid rise height decreases. The liquid rise height reaches the maximum value with a spacing d of 100 μm.
  • Within the range of 2~32 mm H, the liquid rise height increases with the increase in H. The liquid rising height reaches the maximum value when H is 32 mm. When the H is greater than 32 mm, the liquid rising height decreases.
  • After adding surfactant, the liquid rise height increased greatly even without ultrasonic action. The liquid rise height using the cationic surfactant reaches the maximum value, the anionic and nonionic surfactants have approximately equal liquid rise height, and the amphoteric surfactant has a lower rise height.
  • The liquid rising height increases with the temperature rise in the range of 25~30 °C and reaches the maximum value at 30 °C. The liquid rising height decreases with the rise in fluid temperature in the range of 45~55 °C.
  • Under the ultrasonic vibration, the liquid rising rate is the largest in the first two minutes and reaches a lower rate from 2 to 10 min. After 10 to 14 min, the liquid rising rate approaches zero and maintains a stable rising height.

Author Contributions

Data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

  • Liu, J.J.; Yao, Y.; Xiao, S.Q.; Gu, X.F. Review of status developments of high efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells. J. Phys. D Appl. Phys. 2018 , 51 , 123001. [ Google Scholar ] [ CrossRef ]
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Click here to enlarge figure

Technical ParametersValue
Stroke800 mm × 500 mm × 300 mm
Positioning accuracy5 μm
Repeat positioning accuracy3 μm
Maximum feed speed800 mm/s
Overall dimensions/mm325 × 265 × 280
Water tank size/mm300 × 240 × 150
Power supplyAC220–240 V 50 Hz
Ultrasonic power/W240
Heating power/W200
Ultrasonic frequency/kHz40
Maximum capacity/L10
H2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12,
22, 32, 40
Fluid temperature/°C25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55
Ultrasonic vibration time/min2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12
Liquid pigment vol%1%
Working fluidWater
Spacing d/μm50, 60, 70, 100, 150
Unit (μm)
Group 1100100100100
Group 2200100100200
Group 3300100100300
Group 4400100100400
Group 5500100100500
Group 1Group 2Group 3Group 4Group 5
The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

Zhao, J.; Shen, L.; Zhang, C.; Wang, Y. Experimental Research on the Supply of Working Fluid for Fixed Diamond Wire Slicing Based on Ultrasonic Capillary Effect. Micromachines 2024 , 15 , 910. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070910

Zhao J, Shen L, Zhang C, Wang Y. Experimental Research on the Supply of Working Fluid for Fixed Diamond Wire Slicing Based on Ultrasonic Capillary Effect. Micromachines . 2024; 15(7):910. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070910

Zhao, Junying, Luqi Shen, Chunwei Zhang, and Yanqing Wang. 2024. "Experimental Research on the Supply of Working Fluid for Fixed Diamond Wire Slicing Based on Ultrasonic Capillary Effect" Micromachines 15, no. 7: 910. https://doi.org/10.3390/mi15070910

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Can I use someone else's research commercially?

I found a published research paper from the research arm of a company. I would like to use what is presented in the research paper commercially. The materials presented in the research paper do not seem to be patented.

Is this legal? Does the originating company own the intellectual property, or is it now "public domain" due to the research paper being published without a patent? Does this happen quite often? What is the proper etiquette in this situation, should I just leave an attribution to the researcher?

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ff524's user avatar

  • 2 The text itself is definitely copyrighted, but the underlying invention can only be protected by a patent. Which part are you interested in using? –  user14156 Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 21:23
  • 1 The answer by Nicholas is good. Best approach may be to ask the authors if they patented it and if not would they mind saying why (e.g. they found prior patents.) Better to know in advance what their reaction is going to be than after you have invested time and money. They may even help you. –  Philip Gibbs Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 9:58

If the subject material in the research paper is a patentable invention, it might also be the subject material of a patent.

The inventors of an invention may be the first applicants of a patent application. However, if they were employees, employed to invent as part of their normal duties for their employer, the employer is usually considered the first applicant for a patent application.

The rights in a patent or a patent application may be assigned to another person.

So: if there is a patent for an invention relating to the subject material of the research paper, it might be owned by someone other than the company from where the research paper originated. How did you check whether a patent or patent application exists for this subject matter?

Bear in mind that patent applications are made publicly accessible a certain time after the application for a patent is made. So, an applicant may have filed a patent application for the subject material of the research paper, and then published the research paper. The patent application - if extant - may not be publicly available yet . What this means is, if you put into practice the subject material of an unpublished patent application, you may in future receive notification of the patent application, and be advised to cease your operations. If the patent is granted, and you haven't ceased your working of the subject material, you might be liable for damages.

Bear in mind again, that there might be other patents - or patent applications - which relate to the subject material of the research paper. For some degree of certainty, you will need to do a patent search. You can do this yourself, but you have to bear in mind the warnings I gave above in relation to unpublished applications.

There are patent search firms who will do this service for you for a fee.

For a professional legal opinion, ask a patent attorney.

EDIT: If there are intellectual property rights to the subject material of the research paper, you can ask the proprietor of the rights for a licence.

Nicholas's user avatar

  • There are time limits on patents from the time of publication. So if this paper was published in the last year (or even two+), there might still be patents pending. I thought you had to file within one year of any public announcement of the work. (but there are different kinds of filing) Agree on double checking with an attorney. –  DrLivingston Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 2:51
  • 3 @DrLivingston: Just a reminder that the grace period for claiming an invention after first disclosure is available in the US, most notably. It is not the case for most other countries, where any information made available to the public regarding the invention could prevent a valid application being made for a patent to that invention in that juristiction. –  Nicholas Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 3:03
  • Good point. I guess I was just trying to say, if this paper is ~10 years old, and you don't see a patent you are probably good. I didn't know that wasn't more universal. It makes more sense than the US way though I suppose. –  DrLivingston Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 3:05
  • 2 @DrLivingston: Yes, what you've said is generally true, however the OP should be aware that the only way to get a good handle on the intellectual property surrounding the subject matter of the research paper, is to conduct a patent search. And even then, such a search can be inconclusive. If there is nothing out there in the 10 years following a publication, then yes, you may feel that you are free to operate. A patent attorney is the only person that should know of all the pitfalls. –  Nicholas Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 3:19
  • You made an excellent point about patent research. You still haven't answered the question though. Assuming there's no patent, how do you go about using the research of a published paper. Do you need the consent of the author? Or maybe you just need to acknowledge them, regardless of their consent? Or maybe not even that, and any published study can be used with no limits in commercial applications. Of course you would ideally want to involve the author, but sometimes this is not feasible for various reasons. –  Andrei Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 10:30

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can you use & in a research paper


Is it recommended to use "we" in research papers?

1 expert answer.

can you use & in a research paper

Megan H. answered • 03/22/19

Professional, Energetic Writing Teacher with 9 Years of Experience

Generally speaking, it is frowned upon to use any first- or second-person pronouns in academic writing (i.e. I, me, my, myself, you, your, yours, yourself, we, us, our, ourselves). That's because in truly scientific writing, your personal identity should play no role in the validity or framing of your research and reporting.

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Can You Use "I" or "We" in Research Paper

Quick Navigation

What is a research paper?

Work on the research paper is one of the most important forms of the educational process. It is aimed primarily at practical training and is carried out in accordance with the curriculum.

In accordance with the Regulation on the organization of the educational process of higher educational institutions of almost all countries of the world, the research paper is carried out in order to consolidate, deepen and summarize the knowledge gained by students during the study, and their application to a comprehensive solution to a specific task.

New requirements for the quality of training specialists that meet the needs of the modern stage of scientific and technical and socio-economic development of the country, make the research work of students an important factor in improving the entire system of training specialists.

Students must constantly increase their knowledge, respond promptly to the demands of the progress of science and technology. In connection with this, the issues related to the functions of the research work of the students in higher education are of particular relevance, and the education of specialists must be organically linked with the enhancement of their creative potential.

There are many ways of starting the research paper . It can be a quote, a question, information from a blog or any other source, and right now, we’ll provide you with the information on whether you can start it with the story.

Can I use “I” in a research paper.

During writing a research paper, we are faced with many questions we need to find answers to. This article is devoted to giving you the best answers for questions: can I say “I” in a research paper, can you use I in a research paper MLA, can you say We in a research paper and can you use I or We in a research paper.

Let’s start from can you use “I” in a research paper.

  • The answer for the question can a research paper use i is the next: the use of the first person varies considerably between disciplines – most common in the humanities, least common in the physical sciences, with social sciences coming, as you’d expect, in the middle. However, the only field, where no use of the first person in (admittedly small) sample wasn’t found was accountancy. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Use of the first person was most common in the introductions of papers; e.g., “I shall argue that …” Interestingly, conclusions, where students love to write things like “in my opinion ….” or “I strongly believe …” were relatively free of first-person usage.
  • Where phrases like “I think” and “in my opinion” are used, it is often used to make the opinion weaker, not stronger. “I think” means, “I think, but I’m not sure”; “in my opinion” means “this is only my opinion – it’s not the only conclusion you can draw.” (This contrasts with some kinds of business and technical writing, where your opinion is central).

To sum up, the answer for the question can I write I in a research paper is the next: use “I” carefully, bearing in mind your audience, the field in which you are writing and what you are doing in that particular part of the essay, and use “in my opinion” rarely, if at all.

Use “i” in the MLA research paper.

The answer to the question can I use “i” in the MLA research paper is the same as can you use I in a research paper. The general writing style of the research paper is slightly more formal than that of a regular essay. You should avoid all contractions like don’t or won’t; instead, write out the phrases do not and will not. Do not begin any sentences with, and, or, but; instead, use slightly more formal words like Also and However.

If your topic is something scientific or medical, be sure to explain and “break down” any technical words or medical terms. Re-define them in your own words so that the reader can easily understand them. Doing this will also help you to understand the terms by yourself.

Usually, you should try to “set up” the reader for a long story before typing it. In other words, tell the reader what the point of the story is supposed to be. What is the reader supposed to get out of the story? Why do you include it in your paper? What does the story show or prove?

Can I say “we”

There are many discussions about whether we can use I in research papers, as well as can you use “we” in a research paper. There is no clear answer to this question, as you can do both. It’s not prohibited in the rules of academic writing not to use first-person pronouns.

However, the use of “I” and “we” still has some generally accepted rules we ought to follow. For example, the first person is more likely used in the abstract, introduction, discussion, and conclusion sections of an academic paper while the third person and passive constructions are found in the methods and results sections.

It’s not easy to write a good research paper. We need to break the mountain of textbooks, periodical literature, read the works of eminent scientists. As a result, the original text should be obtained, with the same success based on both existing developments and new student ideas.

Also, students often look for information about a psychological research paper.

Check what your teacher thinks about that issue. Do not neglect the help of your instructor, he/she can suggest interesting directions, help to find the right literature. Consultations will allow you to write a qualitative, interesting, and unique research paper.

Can you use “i” or “we” in a research paper?

As far as you can see, the research paper is a journalistic work in which the author sets the task of analyzing an existing scientific problem or certain phenomena from the point of view, first of all, of the regularities lying on their basis. The research paper has a certain composition; its contents should be deployed in a definite sequence.

In particular, the author must first explain the relevance of choosing one or another problem, the degree of its elaboration in the scientific literature, and the practical activities of the industry; define the purpose of the publication, present your thoughts and substantiate them, summarize briefly.

You should decide, can I say “we” in a research paper or can you use the word “i” in a research paper, as in modern academic writing, both ways are popular. Your paperwork should contribute to the profound learning of the lecture course and the acquisition of skills in solving practical problems.

It requires from the student not only the knowledge of the general and special literature on the subject but also the ability to conduct economic, mathematical, expert and other research, to link theory with practice, to generalize, to formulate conclusions and suggestions on improving the efficiency of the service sector and international economic relationships.

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  5. Research Paper Example: Full Step-By-Step Tutorial

  6. How to start ANY research paper (with examples)


  1. Words and Phrases to Avoid in Academic Writing

    Words and Phrases to Avoid in Academic Writing. Published on February 6, 2016 by Sarah Vinz.Revised on September 11, 2023. When you are writing a dissertation, thesis, or research paper, many words and phrases that are acceptable in conversations or informal writing are considered inappropriate in academic writing.. You should try to avoid expressions that are too informal, unsophisticated ...

  2. formality

    Otherwise, the use of OR may exclude BOTH options, when exclusion isn't the intent (that would be an XOR). 'Formal writing' I don't really buy into much. I am always writing formally, unless I'm SMS texting someone maybe. Even if in a research paper, it is fine, unless you have an anal retentive English teacher.

  3. Can You Use I or We in a Research Paper?

    Writing in the first person, or using I and we pronouns, has traditionally been frowned upon in academic writing. But despite this long-standing norm, writing in the first person isn't actually prohibited. In fact, it's becoming more acceptable - even in research papers. If you're wondering whether you can use I (or we) in your research ...

  4. Can You Use First-Person Pronouns (I/we) in a Research Paper?

    However, "I" and "we" still have some generally accepted pronoun rules writers should follow. For example, the first person is more likely used in the abstract, Introduction section, Discussion section, and Conclusion section of an academic paper while the third person and passive constructions are found in the Methods section and ...

  5. Should I Use "I"?

    Each essay should have exactly five paragraphs. Don't begin a sentence with "and" or "because.". Never include personal opinion. Never use "I" in essays. We get these ideas primarily from teachers and other students. Often these ideas are derived from good advice but have been turned into unnecessarily strict rules in our minds.

  6. How to Write a Research Paper: the LEAP approach (+cheat sheet)

    Reading Time: 14 minutes In this article I will show you how to write a research paper using the four LEAP writing steps. The LEAP academic writing approach is a step-by-step method for turning research results into a published paper.. The LEAP writing approach has been the cornerstone of the 70 + research papers that I have authored and the 3700+ citations these paper have accumulated within ...

  7. What to use instead of academic 'we' when describing an experiment?

    My research is in software engineering, but in a sub-field which is very close to social science. My papers normally contain sentences like "We conducted a study with 56 participants." ... If you write a paper you can safely use I whenever you report on things you in particular have done. In methods sections, it concerns the choices of methods ...

  8. Writing a Research Paper

    Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the ...

  9. Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

    When searching the literature for pertinent papers and reviews, the usual rules apply: be thorough, use different keywords and database sources (e.g., DBLP, Google Scholar, ISI Proceedings, JSTOR Search, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science), and. look at who has cited past relevant papers and book chapters.

  10. Can You Use "I" in a Research Paper?

    In conclusion, the use of first-person pronouns, like "I," in research papers is not a simple yes or no proposition. It depends on your field, the nature of your research, and the specific guidelines provided. Remember that clarity, precision, and adherence to the conventions of your discipline are key. By striking the right balance, you can ...

  11. Words Not To Use in a Research Paper

    It is improper to use abbreviations in academic writing. A few abbreviations are acceptable to use in your research paper, though. You should refrain from using the following abbreviations in your research paper: Instead of using, e.g. and, i.e., use for example or for instance. Avoid using "govt." or "depts.".

  12. Donald Trump Is Unfit for a Second Term

    research, debate and certain longstanding values. ... "Of course, to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his ...

  13. What Types of References Are Appropriate?

    Potentially appropriate: books, encyclopedias, and other scholarly works. Another potential source that you might use when writing a research paper is a book, encyclopedia, or an official online source (such as demographic data drawn from a government website). When relying on such sources, it is important to carefully consider its accuracy and ...

  14. MIT researchers introduce generative AI for databases

    We think that, when we move from just querying data to asking questions of models and data, we are going to need an analogous language that teaches people the coherent questions you can ask a computer that has a probabilistic model of the data," says Vikash Mansinghka '05, MEng '09, PhD '09, senior author of a paper introducing GenSQL ...

  15. Answering the Question: "Can You Use I in Research Paper?"

    If your professor or mentor says you should write in the most natural way, then it's okay to use I in your research paper. If you're referring to the reader and yourself, or you were working on the research paper as part of a team, then it's okay to use we, too. It's not OK to use we when you're only referring to yourself.

  16. Can you use I in a research paper

    Here is an aggregation of a few expert opinions about whether you can use I in a research paper. APA. The APA has a long-standing tradition of allowing the use of the first-person pronoun I in its research papers. More specifically, this policy dates as far back as the second edition of the APA Style Manual which was released in 1974 and has ...

  17. Is it recommended to use "we" in research papers?

    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.

  18. Research Guides: Using Images and Non-Textual Materials in

    This guide offers basic information on using images and media in research. Reasonable use of images and media in teaching, course papers, and graduate theses/dissertations is generally covered by fair use. ... It can be used in a critical context within a presentation, classroom session, paper/thesis, or a publication* as follows:

  19. What do research organizations think about open access publishing?

    A new report by COAlition S presents findings and recommendations on open publishing (open access) based on a large consultation among 11,600 researchers from around the world. The report ...

  20. How to include and discuss other studies in your research paper

    This is a good time to reiterate the arguments, research questions/hypotheses and objectives that you introduced in the earlier sections of the paper and to discuss your results and findings. Integrating other relevant literature into your Discussion serves two key purposes. First, it outlines what has already been achieved in prior studies.

  21. Sujay Rao Mandavilli

    Abstract. The starting point of this paper is a very brief overview and review of the concepts and postulates of our previously published paper "Baking innovative and creative thinking techniques into scientific method: Towards innovative and creative techniques as an intrinsic part of scientific method for higher scientific and research output", which was published by us in the early part of ...

  22. Is it acceptable to use "we" in scientific papers?

    Some of us were taught in school that the use of first-person personal pronouns makes scientific writing subjective. But it's not true. Using we or I in a research paper does not always shift the spotlight away from the research. And writing in the third person or using passive voice does not make a piece of research writing objective.

  23. Micromachines

    A Feature Paper should be a substantial original Article that involves several techniques or approaches, provides an outlook for future research directions and describes possible research applications. Feature papers are submitted upon individual invitation or recommendation by the scientific editors and must receive positive feedback from the ...

  24. Can You Say "You", "My" in a Research Paper

    Also you can use word We in research paper. Can you say "Our" in a research paper. Like all the other words mentioned above, the word "our" should not be used in any academic writing and the research paper is not an exception. So, if you are wondering whether it is allowed to build the sentences with the pronoun "our," we can give ...

  25. publications

    Apr 16, 2014 at 3:05. 2. @DrLivingston: Yes, what you've said is generally true, however the OP should be aware that the only way to get a good handle on the intellectual property surrounding the subject matter of the research paper, is to conduct a patent search. And even then, such a search can be inconclusive.

  26. Is it recommended to use "we" in research papers?

    Generally speaking, it is frowned upon to use any first- or second-person pronouns in academic writing (i.e. I, me, my, myself, you, your, yours, yourself, we, us, our, ourselves). That's because in truly scientific writing, your personal identity should play no role in the validity or framing of your research and reporting. Upvote • 1 Downvote.

  27. Can You Use "I" or "We" in Research Paper

    There are many discussions about whether we can use I in research papers, as well as can you use "we" in a research paper. There is no clear answer to this question, as you can do both. It's not prohibited in the rules of academic writing not to use first-person pronouns. However, the use of "I" and "we" still has some generally ...