Maybe I am overthinking this. But which person should I use in the fellowship application? There are sections about the actual science, about the applicant, and about the exchange with the host institution. Is it ok to switch person according to the section? Or should I refer to myself as the "Researcher" as the templates use?

  • 3
    US-centric answer: use the singular first person in grant applications. "We" is okay but sounds silly (unlike in papers where it is an old and deeply entrenched norm). And as for "the PI plans to blah blah blah", I find that one of the most annoying speech patterns in academia, and believe it deserves to die a quick, merciful death. /rant
    – Dan Romik
    Aug 15, 2017 at 14:18
  • Well it seems we have suggestions of using all of the above... Aug 15, 2017 at 17:09
  • I upvoted @DanRomik comment - but strongly advice against using it. European countries have a much lower - if not negative altogether - emphasis on the individual. Referring to yourself as "we" if the grant involves other people, or "the PI" for individual work, is awkward but still the committeee preferred choice
    – famargar
    Nov 27, 2019 at 16:46

3 Answers 3


Optimally, you would check this with people in your field, in the best case somebody who has already written a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposal. In my area, the usage of "I" has become fairly standard for personal grant applications, to the extent that using "they" would be considered somewhat unusual. Using "we" for such grants is not recommended, as apparently some people want to see this as a sign of lacking independence. (I completely disagree with this assessment, but why take the risk?).

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    what is even more standard is to say the PI plans to do such and such. I never saw any application writing "I" or "we".
    – PsySp
    Aug 15, 2017 at 12:18

In a successful Marie Curie IEF, I used both "we" and my name, e.g., "John Smith will ..." This was in CS/HCI.

But, as a native speaker of a romance language, I'm quite fond of the pluralis majestatis (the Royal We), so I didn't think twice about it.


An option that was suggest to me when I wrote my (successful) MSC application was to make use of the chosen project acronym (which you have to choose anyway). Use sentences like:

  • ACRONYM will solve (world hunger).
  • ACRONYM will overcome (major problem) by using (fancy sounding technique).

In my experience allows you avoid most cases were you would otherwise want to use "I" or "We" during the scientific proposal part (often simply to allow for the flow of the text). You will be left with cases that specifically refer to the applicant, who you can refer to as you deem appropriate (see other answers).

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