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"I" used in Eng. research proposals: OK or NG ?
Thread poster: Thomas Magnuson
Thomas Magnuson
Canada
Local time: 05:40
English to Japanese
+ ...
Jul 16, 2003

Hi all, thanks for reading my post.

I had a bit of a silly question: Is it acceptable to use the personal pronoun "I" in academic research proposals (in Anthropology) ?

I know it's a no-no for actual papers, but I'm wondering if the same rule holds at the proposal stage.

Well, thanks & all the best


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xxxElena Sgarbo  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
It may depend on your target audience Jul 16, 2003

Here in the US I have written research proposals for clinical medicine (cardiology), and have used either "we" (meaning my colleagues -all listed on the cover page of the proposal- and I), or the passive voice with no subject, to avoid using "I" when there was no "we". My reviewers were doctors or PhD's at hospitals or research entities.

... But it all may depend on your specific readers / reviewers and the customs re: your field... Anthropology may be a field in which the use of "I" by a writer of a research proposal may be welcome.

I suggest you get hold of previous comparable proposals (particularly those which were awarded research grants).

Good luck with your proposal!
Elena


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:40
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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The author Jul 16, 2003

Good question. It's something I run into a lot. In dealing with publishable scientific articles I had my passive tense phase, avoiding the first person at all costs. However, I have loosened up a bit and now will throw in a "we" here and there, simply because it sounds better than the boring passive. I still have a hang up about ever using "I". "The author" sounds much better to me. In any case, my customers have never complained either way.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:40
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The Proponent Jul 16, 2003

can bail you out, too. If the project were mine and to be submitted to a professor, I might use "I". But if I were, say, applying for funds, I would use "the proponent", which doesn't distinguish between individuals, teams or corporations.

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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:40
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Avoid 'I', use 'we' if you must. Jul 17, 2003

I agree with Edward Potter. That's what I've been doing, too.

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Emma Loghin
Local time: 15:40
German to English
+ ...
I and we and all the rest Jul 17, 2003

If the grant is for one person conducting individual research then you can use 'I'.
But hide it well (i.e. don't begin every sentence with 'I will do this...', 'I have done that...', or 'I propose to...)

For grant applications in the UK nowadays this is perfectly acceptable, particularly in the humanities and some social sciences, where most research is conducted on a individual basis rather than through collaborations.

'We' tends to be used where the application is being made on behalf of several researchers who are working in collaboration, or for a group application (as somebody mentions above).

I would not use 'the proponent' (no insult meant) for an academic grant.

For academic research papers/articles, on the other hand, people use 'we', 'the author' or 'I' depending on the field of research and personal preference. In some fields there are common conventions: in a lot of the sciences and social sciences the author will use 'we', not least because there is an implicit reference to the collective body of academics or researchers, whereas in a lot of humanities people use 'I'.

Hope this helps,

Emma


ps the next question is - what are your opinions about using 'you' in an academic paper?


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Thomas Magnuson
Canada
Local time: 05:40
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your help! Jul 17, 2003

I really appreciate all of your great advice - it was a proofreading job that I was doing, where the writer had used "I" all over the place.

Since he's pretty senior and has probably done more research proposals than me, I ended up leaving some of his "I's" but reduced their numbers by about two thirds.

Well, thanks again & all the best to you all


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Thomas Magnuson
Canada
Local time: 05:40
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Howdy again Jul 18, 2003

emma loghin wrote:

ps the next question is - what are your opinions about using 'you' in an academic paper?


Thanks very much for your comments About the ps:

Hmmmm...Just a gut feeling, but I'd take great pains to avoid it - unless it occurs within a direct quote.

Anyhoo, all the best


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mbc
Spain
Local time: 14:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
I is better than passive Jul 22, 2003

I think we are taught to stay away from the first person (singular or plural) in formal texts but that makes for that awful, awkward, DRY and BORING passive voice. In the US it is definitely acceptable to use I in a proposal. And a well-written proposal with a few I´s is going to go much farther that a poorly written one in passive voice.

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