The ‘I’ in Academic Writing

Students often ask whether they should use ‘I’ and ‘my’ in academic writing. Some have already been advised that writing in the first person is inappropriate for academic work. Avoiding a personal voice and the use of ‘I’ is the general rule in many higher education contexts (such as the scientific disciplines) and remains the safest option in writing essays and dissertations for arts and humanities subjects. However, in the GSA context there are different reasons why you might want to use ‘I’ in academic writing, some of which relate to taking a personal approach to your academic work:

1. You will use ‘I’ to write about your studio work; however when writing about your work you should avoid being too personal and emotive.

2. It can be academic convention to be impersonal while at the same time using ‘I’ as the voice of the writer.

3. Some argue against the impersonal tone of academic writing, but it is easier to take this position as an established scholar rather than an undergraduate student.Picture2

For more detail on our advice on using ‘I’ in academic writing, click on the links below.

  1. Writing about your own work
  1. The ‘I’ of the writer and demonstrating your own analysis
  1. Conceptual Reasons for Using ‘I’