Use of first person pronouns: A corpus based study of journal articles

Başal A., Bada E.

ENERGY EDUCATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PART B-SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, vol.4, no.3, pp.1777-1788, 2012 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Scientific writing is traditionally thought to be impersonal. Therefore, it is not surprising for academicians to see the encouragement of the use of impersonal constructions in scientific articles by most of style manuals. This study is based on an investigation of the use of first person pronouns in journal articles. In many of such scientific articles, personal pronouns I and we can both be seen as a choice for authors to stand their involvement in their writings. In this study, a comparison of 16 articles published between 2000-2005 in the Social Sciences Journal of Cukurova University (SSJC) and English Language Teaching Journal (ELTJ) to determine the frequency of occurrence of first person pronouns I and we. Moreover, the semantic references of these pronouns as inclusive and exclusive according to the way they are used in these articles were investigated. In the light of the results, it is clear that writers of ELTJ used first person pronouns more than those of writers of SSJC. Among the first person pronouns, I was used more than we by writers of ELTJ whereas we was used more than I by scientific writers of SSJC. Scientific writers of ELTJ mostly preferred using exclusive we whereas scientific writers of SSJC preferred using inclusive we. It is concluded that pronoun use is an important aspect of scientific writing and should be included in the curriculum to raise awareness of learners to use them effectively in their scientific texts.