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Should “I” Be Avoided or Embraced? Exploring Divergence between Political Scientist and Student Writing Norms

  • Edward L. Lascher (a1) and Daniel Melzer (a2)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1049096513001078
  • Published online: 30 September 2013
Abstract
Abstract

Political science instructors commonly emphasize the importance of effective writing. However, it is unclear that students either understand or share the norms about what this entails. A notable example is the appropriate use of voice. Prior literature has shown that academic writers often believe it is appropriate to use the pronoun “I” for a variety of rhetorical purposes but suggests that students may be unaware of this reasoning. We examine this topic by determining more precisely how commonly “I” is used in a major political science journal, conducting a survey of political science undergraduate students at a large comprehensive university, and interviewing political science faculty at the same university. Although each group's attitudes are complex, we find evidence that students' views commonly conflict with disciplinary norms. We close by considering the implications for teaching about writing in political science.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

N. Harwood 2006. “(In)appropriate Personal Pronoun Use in Political Science: A Qualitative Study and a Proposed Heuristic for Future Research. Written Communication 23 (4): 424–50.

N. Harwood 2007. “Political Scientists on the Functions of Personal Pronouns in Their Writing: An Interview-Based Study of ‘I’ and ‘We.’Text & Talk 27 (1): 2754.

K. Hyland 1996. “Writing Without Conviction? Hedging in Science Research Articles.” Applied Linguistics 17 (4): 433–54.

K. Hyland 2001. “Bringing in the Reader: Addressee Features in Academic Articles.” Written Communication 18 (4): 549574.

K. Hyland 2002. “Options of Identity in Academic Writing.” ELT Journal 56 (4): 351–58.

R. Ivanic 1994. “I Is for Interpersonal: Discoursal Construction of Writer Identities and the Teaching of Writing.” Linguistics and Education 6 (1): 315.

T. Lillis 1997. “New Voices in Academia? The Regulative Nature of Academic Writing Conventions.” Language and Education 11 (3): 182–99.

G. Myers 1989. “The Pragmatics of Politeness in Scientific Articles.” Applied Linguistics 10 (1): 135.

R. Tang , and S. John. 1999. “The ‘I’ in Identity: Exploring Writer Identity in Student Academic Writing Through the First Person Pronoun.” English for Specific Purposes 18: S23S39.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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