Me, me, me...


Since it's not long until I hand my thesis in, I really should have worked this out by now. However, I'm still feeling uncomfortable about the parts of my thesis where I refer to myself. My research is by nature in parts self-reflexive as I have investigated the area that I worked in previously. But "my experience..." "I observed that..." just doesn't sit well with me. I don't even much like "I suggest" and "I argue".

Should I replace the "I"s and "my"s with "this researcher" or the equivalent (which can sound a bit contrived in my opinion) or just get over it? Looking at the writing in my field, there are "I"s a-plenty.

How have y'all tackled this issue? Can you suggest any useful third person phrases to get round it?




i either use passive "It was observed that", "Thus, it can be argued that ...."

or sometimes "we did this and that"

my supervisor hates "I", but is happy with the above two!


Hi Bettyspaghetti, like you, I have also had issues with my writing perspective and the matter of whether I use first person or third person. However, in my research I need to be reflexive as I am effectively the research instrument - the work I am doing is qualitative (quantitative in places too - yikes) - so it is important that I write in the first person. I therefore think that you, too, may need to get over the issue of writing in the first person and adopt it, since your research is reflexive.
Would I be in thinking that your research is strongly qualitative? If so, I'd strongly recommend the first person - it's the way forward. I used to think it was a bit, well, sissy to write in such a way, that it wasn't scientific. After practising the writing style I do now think differently! Qualitative research is so researcher-centric that it does not to be written in first person in my opinion. The danger in writing in the third person is that, during in your viva, your examiner might say 'lovely work, very pertinent, but where are you in it? How have you developed? What has been your journey?'
Sorry if what I've written sounds silly, but that's my reflection on it. I used to be a positivist before, initially reluctantly, embracing the Naturalistic Paradigm.


I agree with Walminskipeas. I think not using I is in response to the dominance of positivism; even where people reject positivism it's still hard to actually make that break with the little hangovers that sound 'normal' and 'academic'. Particularly if your work is self-reflexive then I can see how you can be that without I.


This recent thread may help some:

I agree about the third-person 'this researcher'/'this author' sounding a little contrived.


could you put something like ' In my previous work (xxx,2000) it was noted that....', it was observed that..., the conclusions were...' it is a difficult one, although it sounds really odd to put in your own research, I've put my previous stuff in just as if I was quoting anyone else, but than that seems to be the norm in education - have you had a look at anyone else's thesis in your field to see how that have tackled this question?


I think that writing in the first person about self-reflexive research is owning what you say and being honest. There's ways opf course of not saying I too many times but it's important that nowadays it's clear who wrote it and whose thoughts they are.

It is a very interesting area, one i have been dealing and addressing the usual academic habit ofwriting in the thoird person.

Avatar for Eska

This is something my supervisor brought up recently. I've been told to use 'I' because it is grammatically incorrect to say this thesis will explore, or this chapter will analyse when theses and chapters donot have lives of their own! I think he's right, and it is a relief for me to stop thinking of ways of NOT saying 'I' all the time. I've never been comfortable with third person presentation, it's always felt like an archaic, and pretty useless, convention. After all these are my findings, and my research processes, so why not just say so?


Thanks for all your advice guys. I have resolved my issues and launched headlong into the first person (where appropriate!)