Is active or passive voice more common in scientific writing?

Asked by: Jennifer Williams

In scientific writing, we use both voices to write clear and coherent research articles. Although many scientists overuse the passive voice, most scientific journals (e.g. Science and Nature) actually encourage active voice.

Why is the passive voice often acceptable in scientific writing?

“Using the passive voice in scientific writing allows the researcher to stand at a distance from his or her work. By standing at a distance, an unbiased viewpoint is much more likely to be reached.

Is active or passive voice better for academic writing?

Generally, in scholarly writing, with its emphasis on precision and clarity, the active voice is preferred.

What voice active vs passive is preferred in scientific technical writing?

Active Voice is considered more concise, direct, easier for readers to understand, and is often the preferred choice for Technical writing. When Passive Voice is used, the subject is acted upon. The past participle of the verb is used to create Passive Voice.

Do writers prefer active or passive voice?

Because active-voice sentences are clearer, livelier, and often more concise than passive-voice sentences, most style guides advise scientific authors to prefer the active voice in their writing.

Is passive voice OK in scientific writing?

Editorial advice from the ACS: “Use the passive voice when the doer of the action is unknown or not important.” Scientific Writing Has Traditionally Been Third Person, Passive Voice… *“So many papers deserve to be better written than they are.”

What tense is used in scientific writing?

In your scientific paper, use verb tenses (past, present, and future) exactly as you would in ordinary writing. Use the past tense to report what happened in the past: what you did, what someone reported, what happened in an experiment, and so on.

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Which voice should be used in academic writing?

active voice

In academic writing, passive voice is used to describe a process, the results of study, or similar material which is objective in nature. But active voice is used to describe actions.

What voice should a writer use in a research paper?


Since active-voice constructions are usually stronger, clearer, more direct, and often more concise than their passive-voice counterparts, most style guides advise scientific and clinical authors to favor the active voice in their research writing.

How is active voice used in academic writing?

Here’s a sentence using active voice: • The researchers wrote the paper. In active voice, the subject of the sentence (the researchers) carried out the action or verb (wrote). The object of the sentence (the paper) is the thing being acted on i.e. the paper was produced as a result of the researchers’ writing.

What is wrong with writing in passive voice?

Passive voice often creates unclear, less direct, wordy sentences, whereas active voice creates clearer, more concise sentences. To change a sentence from passive to active voice, determine who or what performs the action, and use that person or thing as the subject of the sentence.

How do you avoid passive voice in academic writing?

To avoid using the passive voice, make sure the subject of your sentence is doing the action. For example, “The tail was wagged by the dog” is passive, but “The dog wagged its tail” isn’t because the subject of the sentence, the dog, is doing the action.

How do you avoid passive voice in science?

Unless you have a compelling reason to choose passive voice, use active voice. Consider active voice as the default and don’t be afraid to use the first person when applicable. Passive voice is useful to pull the emphasis of the sentence away from the researcher.

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Which situations are best suited for the passive voice?

When do I use passive voice?

  • The actor is unknown: …
  • The actor is irrelevant: …
  • You want to be vague about who is responsible: …
  • You are talking about a general truth: …
  • You want to emphasize the person or thing acted on. …
  • You are writing in a scientific genre that traditionally relies on passive voice.

Can you use passive voice in essays?

The subject of the passive voice sentence performs the action expressed in the verb in this example. Sometimes the use of passive voice can create awkward sentences, as in the last example above. Also, overuse of passive voice throughout an essay can cause your prose to seem flat and uninteresting.

What is complexity in academic writing?

Complexity: Academic writing is more complex. It has longer words with varied vocabulary and usually complicated grammar, compared to spoken language.

Should you use passive voice in thesis?

APA recommends the active voice for clarity. However, the passive voice may be used, with intention, to remove the emphasis on the subject and also as a method for varying sentence structure.

How often is passive voice used in research?

When the recipient is the main focus: The passive voice is generally used when you wish to emphasize the person or thing acted on; for instance, when referring to your main topic, as in the following example: Active: In 1921, researchers at the University of Toronto discovered insulin.

Which voice should be most prominent in an essay?

Which voice should be most prominent in a research paper? The person writing the essay.

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Why is active voice important in writing?

Active voice is used for most non-scientific writing. Using active voice for the majority of your sentences makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps the sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy. Even in scientific writing, too much use of passive voice can cloud the meaning of your sentences.

Is active voice used?

In an active sentence, the person or agency that’s acting is the subject of the sentence. In a passive sentence, the person or item that is acted upon is the subject of the sentence.
Use active voice.

Passive voice Active voice
New regulations were proposed. We proposed new regulations.

Which voice allows writers to use varied and strong verbs in sentences?

In the active voice, the subject and verb relationship is straightforward: the subject is the actor of the sentence and the verb moves the sentence along. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is acted upon by some other agent or by something unnamed.

Which sentence best expresses the idea of using an active voice?

Active voice, unlike passive voice is a form of grammar usage where the subject of a sentence is the performer of the action. For example, “Adam cooked the food“. Therefore, the sentence that best expresses the idea of using active voice . because the subject is the performer of the action.

How much money do you save in a year change into passive voice?

The passive voice form of this sentence would be “How much money is saved by you in a year?” Active voice consists of a transitive verb. The clause in which active voice is used expresses the agent of the action as the subject.