How to refer to self in a formal report?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by SpookTheHamster, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

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    London
    #1
    I'm trying to finish up a report, but I've hit a massive writer's block trying to write my way around using 'I' or 'my'.

    I know it's just not allowed to refer to myself in that way, and have always managed to avoid it before, but I need to refer to my family history in the conclusion of this report and I can't think of a way to do it.
     
  2. iamamonkey macrumors newbie

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    Jan 28, 2010
  3. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603

    MacBoobsPro

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    #3
    'The history of the x family' instead of 'my family' ?
     
  4. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

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    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #4
    Give an example sentence :) Instead of using replacement words, you can cleverly rewrite the whole sentence so it's nice and fluid without having to use my anyway..
     
  5. yotd macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #7
    In most contexts 'I' or 'me' isn't really acceptable because it's not strictly relevant and using the personal pronoun is just lazy. But if it's actually about you, I don't see a problem... ?
     
  6. Capt Crunch macrumors 6502

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    Cleveland, OH
    #8
    ding ding ding, even in academic papers that I've exclusively written, I refer to myself as 'we'.
     
  7. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

    Staff Member

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    #9
    At my University if we cannot think of any other way of phrasing the sentence then we can use 'this author...'
     
  8. SpookTheHamster thread starter macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

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    #10
    I used 'the author', after also just finding it used in a relevant journal article.
     
  9. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

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    Vancouver
    #11
    "the author" - is my standard one.

    occasionally "we" is used.
     
  10. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #12
    I thought "the author" was more or less standard. Hmm.
     
  11. RawBert macrumors 68000

    RawBert

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    #13
    If you are including the reader, use "one."
    As in, "...when one has writer's block, one must request assistance on macrumors.com..."
     
  12. renewed macrumors 68040

    renewed

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    Bemalte Blumen duften nicht.
    #14
    Still curious as to an example sentence. Obviously using "I" or "My" in a formal essay is a no-no.

    For example, if you needed to state a belief or idea you wouldn't say, "I believe the sky is blue". Instead you would say, "The sky is blue" or you could say "The belief is that the sky is blue".

    If you were talking about your family you could say, "The whole family" or "The family" instead of "My family" etc...

    Formal writing is intended to point out facts or opinions, however, keeping clear of first person as much as possible.

    This too.
     
  13. TechieJustin macrumors 6502

    TechieJustin

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    Pennsylvania, USA
    #15
    Use the "infinity" symbol. ∞
    Option + 5.
     
  14. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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  15. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Sep 19, 2003
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    Canada, eh?
    #17
    The convention does get awkward sometimes. I remember reading a review of some kindonce, and coming upon a sentence something like, "we found that the device fit nicely in our hand, although our right thumb began to get sore after a while". That could probably have been rewritten ("at least one reviewer found that their thumb...")
     
  16. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    Denver, CO
    #18
    Indeed, that's just sloppy. It could have been rectified trivially: "We found the device fit nicely in the hand, although the right thumb began to get sore after a while." That's not to say no better phrasing exists, but it seems a clear case of applying a rule mechanically with no feel for the language.

    OP, there are indeed a number of ways to accomplish what you want, but in the specific case of referring exclusively to one's own family, "the author's family" seems the only really plausible one. "Our family" or "one's family" are inappropriate because the family is not shared with the reader. It might seem less awkward to clarify in the beginning that "the author's family" is the particular family under consideration, then abbreviate to "the family" subsequently.

    A clever dodge in this specific case would be to identify a particularly notable family member, who can be specifically named without violating the ego rule, at the earliest convenience. This opens the way to identify other members in relation to a focal point other than the author himself.

    If those options are unappealing, also acceptable are "The Author Formerly Known As <Your Name>" or "His Authorial Sagacity, the Archduke of Awesome."
     
  17. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #19
    Sweet, I'm going to try this on my next company bid proposal! :D
     
  18. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    Feb 20, 2009
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    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #20
    You should always refer to yourself in third person, even in normal conversation.

    "So, the other day, the Steve was trying to fix a server when an idiot co-worker calls up and asks if the server was down."

    It's kind of like the royal we, but not as stuck-up.
     
  19. iGav macrumors G3

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    Mar 9, 2002
    #21
    That tickled me. :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p
     

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