Personal or impersonal?
Scientific writers often try to avoid the use of personal expressions or statements in order to make their writing seem more impartial and formal. The following sentence has been written with both personal and impersonal expressions to highlight the contrast between the two writing styles.
impersonal The explanation for this phenomenon may be found in...
personal We/I believe that the explanation for this phenomenon may be found in...
However, used indiscriminately, writing impersonally can result in clumsy statements through an excessive use of the passive voice. This can lead to ambiguity or inaccuracy in your written work, for example:
impersonal & passive
It was decided that the temperature should be raised gives no information about the identity of the people who made the decision.
personal & active
We decided that the temperature should be raised avoids ambiguity and makes the sentence sound more direct, but uses the personal and rather informal we.
impersonal & active
The research team decided that the temperature should be raised is clear and direct.
Think carefully about your use of impersonal and personal expressions, taking care to ensure that your writing is always clear and unambiguous.