Why is passive voice ubiquitous in scientific writing?
With the amount of such writing that I am about to perform in the next month, I need to vent.
Passive voice can be quite useful, especially when you don’t know who or what is performing the action. That’s what it was designed for (I think).
But, please, all things in moderation. A whole paper or proposal or thesis written in passive voice is just painful.
The experiment was not performed and the data was not gathered: we, the authors, we did it. I know who it is. Can’t I just say that?
Is writing in passive voice a way to avoid claiming ownership of an action? Are we so scared that we might say something inaccurate that we simply write, “The data were analyzed and these conclusions were drawn,” instead of saying, “Yes! I drew these conclusions. I’m not sure they’re correct, but I’m willing to risk a little of my reputation on the claim that they are.”
*Sigh*. The writer was frustrated and a blog post was written.