The I of the Writer

writerIn traditional academic genres such as the essay, it is conventional in many contexts to use ‘I’ to denote the writer of the essay. This is particularly useful for signposting as it directs the reader to the main points (‘In this essay I will argue…’; ‘As I indicated in the introduction to this essay…’) . The use of the ‘I’ can make clear your evaluation of different sources (‘I judge Smith’s interpretation to be more convincing than Jones’s’), although it is best not to use words such as ‘think’, ‘feel’, and ‘believe’. These uses of ‘I’ ensure that your essay may be written in the active voice, which is generally clearer than the passive voice. However, you could avoid the use of ‘I’ and keep the same meaning and clarity of expression. For example, ‘This essay will argue…’; ‘As indicated in the introduction’; and ‘Smith’s interpretation is more convincing than Jones’s.’ If you lack confidence in academic writing, this is the safest option.

next: conceptual reasons for using I

Image: Diana Golledge