This is likely a novice question coming from an undergrad, but recently, I've submitted a review paper to a conference as suggested by my lecturer for academic experience. The topic of the paper is about the capabilities, limitations, concerns, and mitigations of generative AI models.

I've received notification that the paper has been accepted, however, the sole reviewer for my paper has also added the following comments:

This is a review paper, however, the writing style is more like summarising from other's findings. You should consider a systematic literature review or some analysis to come out with your own outlook.

and also

Avoid using we or I in the technical paper.

This has left me quite confused, as I was always under the impression that research should be based on facts and existing evidence, and I'm wary of expressing any personal opinions in my paper that's too far removed from the reviewed literature, which I believe is what made it come off as "summarizing from the finding of others". The suggestion to avoid first-person pronouns only confuses me further. How would I express a personal outlook without doing so?

An example of what I've done would be: Author A finds C. Findings of Author B also support C. Therefore, we believe C may be a viable solution, though its limitations include...

I'm certain that there are flaws with my current understanding, though the problem is that I'm not sure how to go about it correctly, if that makes sense? This leads back to my initial question: how does one make a review paper unique, and not just something cobbled together and taped up from other papers like Frankenstein's monster?

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    Congratulations on the acceptance. Ask the lecturer who encouraged you to write and submit this paper. Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 0:53
  • @EthanBolker Thanks for the suggestion! Interestingly enough my lecturer gave me the same response when I sent him my first draft (except the 'we' part), and the altered submitted paper has received the green light from him previously. At this point, I've posted the question in hopes of knowing if my paper has an "objective" issue that needs to be fixed, or if the reviewer's comments are more so their own preferences, if that makes sense?
    – Talos0248
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 2:29
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    Why do you think they are looking for your opinion? They said to do a systematic review or analysis [to support] your own [currently insufficiently supported] outlook. They are not looking for more opinion. They are looking for a deeper analysis.
    – Dawn
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 2:43
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    Well, that basically is what they mean. Do some more formal structured analysis of the current state of the literature, not just a literature review. Then you will have findings, not an opinion. Own outlook=own contribution or findings
    – Dawn
    Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 3:20
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    As for the "I/we" issue: People have different opinions on the matter. Some people prefer the use of the passive voice instead. I personally (along with many colleagues) find papers that use passive voice very difficult to read and strongly advise against it. My recommendation is to ignore that part of the review. Commented Jun 14, 2023 at 16:47

1 Answer 1


This is a review paper, however, the writing style is more like summarising from other's findings. You should consider a systematic literature review or some analysis to come out with your own outlook.

This is probably going to be inherently difficult for you, since you are an undergraduate and so you do not have the long experience that a seasoned academic can usually draw on to offer such a perspective. You are right to be wary of giving personal opinions unbacked by evidence, but that doesn't seem to me to be what the referee is asking for. The referee says that you should consider conducting some analysis that would come with your own outlook.

I recommend you speak to your lecturer to get some advice on this point. Your lecturer should be able to provide you with some general advice tailored to this field, and might also be a useful sounding-board if you have some ideas on what perspective you could bring to the paper. This might be an area where you need to team up with an experienced academic (e.g., as a co-author) to obtain the benefit of their experience in the field.

Avoid using we or I in the technical paper.

This is an unusual suggestion, since use of "we" is both common and widely accepted in technical papers. Unless this is an actual requirement of the journal style (check the journal page for this information), you should decline to follow this instruction. In your point-by-point response to reviewers, set this one as an area of disagreement and note that it would detract from the readability of your paper to follow this instruction.

Notwithstanding this approach, make sure to check your paper to ensure that you have been consistent with your first-person pronoun --- it is common to use the royal "we" in technical papers, but you should generally avoid flitting between "we" and "I" unless there is good reason to do so.

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