Generally it is considered to be "good practice" to write reports in the third person passive voice for a wide array of academic writing. It is even a requirement of publication in several journals.

However, I have been unable to find any sort of information for "why" this is the way it is. I can't find any studies on the effect of reports written in the passive vs active tenses nor the effect of 3rd vs 1st person.

Could anyone shed any light on why this is the way it is?


First and second person by definition are individuals 'involved' in the activity whereas the third person is someone who is merely an observer of the said activity.

Since reports are always expected to be objective (impersonal) third person passive tense is the most appropriate.

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    This doesn't really answer my question I'm afraid. It just leads to the reframed question of "Why are reports expected to be written impersonably?". – Persistence Jan 23 '18 at 14:29
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    @JamesHughes What kind of answer do you expect? Of course, you can always go further down the rabbit hole. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jan 23 '18 at 14:40
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    Do you have any citations or references for your answer? Right now, your "answer" dominated by your own opinion. – Richard Erickson Jan 23 '18 at 16:47
  • My “opinion” is formed on the basis of inputs from academics I am working with. There may study so to speak of effects as stated in question. But then again, this is something widely agreed upon in the academia. I don’t understand what else is required in the answer. – gandhar_nigudkar Jan 23 '18 at 17:38
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    this is something widely agreed upon in the academia — Not in my field it isn't. Academia varies more than you think it does. – JeffE Jan 24 '18 at 2:34

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