Passive voice in academic writing

Passive voice encourages nominalizations A major problem with passive is that it makes it easier to use abusive nominalizations. It may be the case that the actor is completely obvious, in which case it is fine to leave her out. Even in scientific writing, too much use of passive voice can cloud the meaning of your sentences.

The uncertainty principle was formulated in It is still the only treatment available for diabetes.

Using the active and passive voice in research writing

Just a couple of extra points. The passive sentence focuses on how glass is classified, rather than on who classifies glass. This passive voice sentence is less concise than its active voice counterpart shown below.

The dog bit the man. Here is a brief extract: Make your writing flow, connecting one sentence to the next, and it will be understandable.

When you do, make sure the actor is not ambiguous, be careful to check for dangling modifiers, and avoid abusive nominalizations. You could choose to construct your own texts to be stylistically similar. It is believed by the candidate that a ceiling must be placed on the budget by Congress.

The text in the active voice focuses on the 'doers', that is society, rather than on women, the people acted on by the actions of others.

Academic writing

Somehow the first which is even worse than the second seems acceptable. Even more useful would be to read several texts by the experts in your academic field and note how they construct their arguments and analyses.

DNA encodes genetic information. The claims about the alleged faults of passive clauses are never justified. They can make the reader work unnecessarily hard. Nature Choose the active voice more often than you choose the passive, for the passive voice usually requires more words and often obscures the agent of action.

The First Deadly Sin

Scientists classify glass as a solid. But in fact that condition is not met either. Only include one main idea per sentence. Avoid using redundant words. Active Versus Passive Voice Summary: But you can still go back through your essay hunting specifically for passive sentences.

Passive sentences can get you into trouble in academic writing because they can be vague about who is responsible for the action: Weeding out passive sentences If you now use a lot of passive sentences, you may not be able to catch all of the problematic cases in your first draft.

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The passive voice is thus extremely useful in academic writing because it allows writers to highlight the most important participants or events within sentences by placing them at the beginning of the sentence.

My advice would be to avoid all generic advice about the passive. The passive voice is more formal than the active voice. Not everyone agrees that it is appropriate to remove actors in order to stress the action: Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

These three things contribute to confusion often associated with passive voice. An experimental solar power plant will be built in the Australian desert. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

I subscribe to the former, but maybe this ends in an opinion. This passive voice sentence is less concise than its active voice counterpart shown below.

In this ideology the argument used to sustain the subjugation of women has largely rested on premises about biological difference - the biological differences between men and women have been used to legitimate hierarchical structures of social inequality.

After long debate, the proposal was endorsed by. Journals prefer active voice It may not have always been this way, but currently, the survey says:. To learn more about the use of passive voice in the sciences, visit our handout on writing in the sciences. When should I avoid passive voice?

Passive sentences can get you into trouble in academic writing because they can be vague about who is responsible for the action.

Using passive vs. active voice has to do with what you’re choosing to emphasize in your writing. Active voice focuses the reader’s attention on the grammatical subject of the sentence; passive voice focuses the reader’s attention on the actions being performed in the sentence.

Summary: This handout will explain the difference between active and passive voice in writing. It gives examples of both, and shows how to turn a passive sentence into an active one.

Use the active voice

2. In addition, in academic writing sometimes it is obvious, irrelevant or repetitive to state who the 'doer' of the sentence is: thus the passive voice is a useful way to construct these types of sentences.

As noted before, passive voice is allowed in APA style and can be quite appropriate, especially when writing about methods and data collection.

Passive Voice: When to Use It and When to Avoid It

However, students often overuse the passive voice in their writing, which means their emphasis in the sentence is not on the action taker. 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. Related: Having trouble with grammar and punctuations in your research paper?

Passive voice in academic writing
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Active Versus Passive Voice // Purdue Writing Lab