There has been a long debate on the passive voice in academic writing for decades. Passive voice emphasises the object that experiences a certain action instead of the person or object that performs that action. In the passive voice, the most important person or thing becomes the sentence’s subject in simple words. Academically, we consider passive voices a more formal and unclear sentence structure that often leads to confusion. We often do not prefer passive voice in certain writing tasks where you need to address a common person.
In contrast, the use in academic writing aims to create new ideas or unveil hidden scientific facts. Let us discuss how we should use passive voice in academics in detail. This article will throw light on how important the passive voices are in academic writing, along with reasons for their recommendations.
Can you use passive voice in academic writing?
Yes, we can use the passive voice in academic writing. The passive voice is useful to describe a process, results and other objective parts of research. You can use passive voice in any assignment because ‘it is also a style of writing’. There is nothing wrong with this style of writing. In technical tasks or assignments, passive voice aims to make your text more formal.
In contrast, in less formal writing like a blog, the complete avoidance or a little use of passive voice is recommended to make it reader-friendly. Still, the complete restrictions on passive voice, even in blog writing, are impossible. Instead of bringing difficulties, passive voices make sentences easy to write and read in many cases.
The use of passive voice in academic writing is good as we write academic tasks for certain group readers. Moreover, writing an academic article aims to create awareness about some field-specific phenomena. In this scenario, difficulties in understanding a passive voice least affect the field experts. Therefore, an academic writer can use a grammatically correct passive voice in academic reports and essays to give it a formal touch. However, there are many coursework writing services available to get help from in case of any issue.
Why is passive voice important in academic writing?
The use of passive voice in academic writing is not prohibited, as explained in the previous section. Rather, it is very important to use them in assignments for several reasons. They create a sentence in which the subject experience or receive actions. These sentences are slightly different from active voice that explains a subject’s actions. Passive voice often skips the subject and introduces the object as a subject. In technical writing, the passive voice is important because sometimes it becomes difficult to locate an actual subject. For example, when writing on a recycling mechanism, the active voice demands you specify the subject for each sentence. In other words, the passive voice saves us from writing about who collects the garbage, who crushes the plastic and who excludes the material. Hence, the scientific process saves the researcher from locating the doer for each action.
Moreover, passive voice in academic writing is also important as it emphasises action instead of a performer. It is the most important thing in writing a research paper, as in scientific processes, we only need to focus on actions. For example, you should be a performer when writing a research methodology. Hence, you do not need to mention over and over again what steps ‘you’ performed. The passive voice can best help you in doing so. Instead of writing ‘I mixed Copper Sulphate in pre-heated water (100 ºC) over Bunsen Burner’, you can write ‘Copper Sulphate was mixed in pre-heated water (100º C) over Bunsen Burner’. Thus, the passive voice aims to bring continuity in research work.
Why is the passive voice used recommended in academic writing?
The passive voice helps the researcher avoid the overuse of personal pronouns in academic writing to make documents more formal. Furthermore, there are many cases when passive voice is highly recommended.
- When you do not exactly know the actor, for example, 60% of bulbs’ energy is dissipated in the form of heat.
- When the performer is irrelevant, for example, it was studied that Dengue virus (DENV) is the causative agent of Dengue.
- When you even do not want to specify the actor. For example, academic writing mistakes were committed.
- When we talk about a general truth, penicillin was discovered in 1928 at St. Mary’s Hospital, London.
- When the purpose of your writing is to describe the action, not the subject, insulin was discovered so that diabetic patients can lead an almost normal life.
- The scientific genre topic also needs writers to use the passive voice in academic writing. For example, Most of the time, hydrochloric acid is titrated against Sodium chloride to point to determine the unknown component concentration.
Consequently, the passive voice used in all the above cases reflects the importance of action or a process instead of an actor. However, reasons for skipping the performer in different academic writing tasks are different. In some cases, we often don’t know who exactly acted, while we only want to explain an event in others. In general, passive voice is also vital in writing an academic task.
Further, we can say that a writing draft must be a perfect blend of active and passive voice. The overuse of active voice and the complete elimination of passive voice decrease the quality of a writing task. Still, an academic manuscript containing too much passive voice is hard to read. It often confuses the reader. Therefore, we should preferably use a passive voice in academic writing, but maintaining its right density is also important. As a whole, passive voices are recommended to use in academic writing.
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