I am currently working on my thesis and facing the problem of choosing between "I", "We" or "the author" when I want to talk about things I defined, decided etc. I am the only author of my thesis, but using "I" is not very common, is it? I saw quite a lot of work of single-authors that used "We" when referencing to themselves.

"The author" seems nicer to me, but it is not common?

Any recommendations or remarks?


Short answer It varies. Ask your advisor!

According to my advisor (Social Sciences, using APA style manual), 'the author' is always correct, and the use of 'I' hurts the eyes and the sensibilities!

Although many style guides now permit the use of 'I', especially for a single-author paper, you will find that many academics have been taught to avoid 'I'. They may express strong dislike for the use of 'I', and your work may subtly and unconsciously be considered 'less good' because of your pronoun use. 'The author' is always considered correct. The bigger problem is probably learning how to write fluidly and concisely with this construction. Vary your sentence structure, and absolutely do NOT begin every other sentence with 'the author found/did/decided'!


"We" is correct, even if you are the only author, by "we" you express "me and you, my dear reader". Therefore it's completely fine to use it in your thesis.

  • Could the downvoter please explain me what is wrong with the answer, so that I can improve it? Thank you.
    – yo'
    Mar 30 '14 at 12:33
  • I think this may vary by field. I've been told not to use "we" on a single-author paper.
    – Flyto
    Apr 2 '14 at 13:03
  • 5
    In "We corrected for overfitting by performing a ..." in a single author paper the use of "we" to mean "me and the reader" is clearly absurd, as the reader can't be included in this process in the same way as he could when describing a derivation or so. Jun 29 '14 at 7:25

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