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Academic Writing
Impersonal Language

Moving from personal to impersonal language

An example of the type of personal writing to avoid in academic writing:

I believe that the "Design School Model" is a good basic model, yet from reading the related arguments and coming to my own conclusions, I feel that the model is flawed because there are many factors to be considered before a business is even ready to do a successful SWOT analysis, let alone using it solely for the formulation of strategy. Therefore I must conclude, based on the beliefs of Mintzberg, Ansoff and myself, that the "Design School Model" is not a solution to the problem of formulating strategy.

The use of personal pronouns and judgemental words in this text results in a clear expression of the writer's feelings. As a reader therefore, you become very aware of the writer's presence in this text. This characteristic is undesirable for most academic writing.

So how do you move from personal to impersonal language?

Look at how the same opinion is expressed in the following sentences.

Click each sentence to see an analysis of its language features.

Personal/Informal Impersonal/Formal
Sentence 1
I think that management could take a softer stance against our union.
Sentence 2
Management could take a softer stance against the union.
Sentence 3
A softer stance could be taken against the union.


The opinion that is expressed is equivalent in all three sentences. It is HOW this opinion is expressed that has changed:

Sentence 1 gives the impression of subjectivity

Sentence 2 and especially sentence 3 are more abstract and thus seem more objective.

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