When writing academic papers, how should I refer to myself?

"We.... ", even though I am just one person?

"I....", makes sense, but sounds informal?

"The author", .... sounds formal, but perhaps doesn't make sense?

  • 2
    It's common to refer to oneself as "this author" or "this writer" in formal writing. – Robusto Mar 16 '17 at 18:54
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    (This has been covered on Academia SE and EL&U, so you might look at answers there.) It really depends on the field, and sometimes the specific journal. In some fields referring to the researcher at all is avoided, and passive constructions and other work-arounds are preferred to any of your suggestions. In fields at the other end of the spectrum, the first person singular is perfectly acceptable, and may actually be encouraged for the sake of clarity. Some are somewhere in between. Best to look at examples of academic writing in your field, and also possibly ask a trusted expert in the field. – 1006a Mar 16 '17 at 20:45

There is nothing informal about using "I", but sometimes it is not used in a particular field. Long ago when I was a student, my supervisor made me change all my passive constructions to active (with "I"), as it made it clear which parts were my original contribution and which were already known.

Some fields prefer passive constructions, or "This author", for example. It is best to talk to your supervisor, or look at other examples in your field.

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