IMO view: Speak up (louder), young scholars!
When I was in a university, some professors insisted that we should write our manuscripts in passive voice — “the study was conducted” rather than “we conducted the study”. They felt that removing the agents of actions lent an objective tone to the study. This means we scholars stood apart from our study and put the thesis for the public to critique, rather than relying on our own logical description of the thesis.
For me, active voice in academic manuscripts is more readable and engaging for readers, and is helpful in understanding turgid academic or scientific papers.
Nowadays, although more teachers push their students to use the active voice, the scientific community continues to encourage young scholars to adopt the passive voice for the rest of their careers. Some argue that they are working in an environment where “passivity” is the best model for scientific work.
While the passive voice may lend a degree of objectivity in terms of public perception, the use of the passive voice may be open to the misinterpretation by the public. Even the best studies cannot completely capture the public’s passion and curiosity to understand the core idea being conveyed. Scientists must communicate about their work to broader audiences.
In advancing the body of knowledge, advisors and scholars should work hand-in-hand in promoting and discussing their theses. Advisors should not dominate their scholars’ work, but should instead encourage the adoption of the active voice in order to advance their theses. This will lead to some significant benefits.
The adoption of the active voice will increase the public’s recognition of a researcher’s accomplishment and shift the attention to the scholars behind the papers, in turn leading to an increase of the scholars’ responsibility toward their papers rather than “hiding” behind the passivity and modesty of scientific culture.
The other benefit of adopting the active voice is that it will encourage younger scholars to broaden their networks and collaboration with other researches. In the era of globalization, taking a passive role will lead to disadvantages.
We need to engage and communicate with the communities in this strong competition. The combination of outstanding work and collaboration will lead scholars to accomplishments; the active voice here means not merely waiting for an invitation, but seeking out audiences, engaging with public perception and advancing the body of knowledge. Publishing one’s accomplishments and also gaining more public recognition is the best way to make the public aware of scientific enterprises.