Some people still tell students that using personal pronouns leads to "subjective writing" and, hence, is unacceptable, as "objectivity" is an important ideal to strive for in academic writing. Yet, students see personal pronouns ("we/our" being more common than "I/my") in published articles, thus leading to confusion.

It is true that statements without any supporting evidence or arguments are NOT acceptable. For example:

  • "I strongly believe that Australia should adopt a carbon emissions trading scheme by 2010 even if the rest of the world doesn't follow suit."
  • "Based on my experience, positive thinking has great value in helping people overcome physical illness."

However, that does not mean that all uses of personal pronouns are intrinsically subjective, and if your results need interpretation (like suggestive rather than conclusive evidence in a court of law), it is you who does the interpretation, whether you use a personal pronoun to describe what you did or not. So the subjectivity / objectivity lies in how you, the interpreter, went about interpreting your findings, not in how you write about it.

Nevertheless, most scholarly writing contains very few personal pronouns.

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