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How to change a style guide

Discussion in 'Education' started by techSultan, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. techSultan

    techSultan Guest

    I'm an engineering graduate student whose high school English teachers drilled to use active voice. Now that I'm reading and writing technical papers, I can't stand the often ambiguous and verbose passive voice that most peers use to seem "objective".

    To use a simple example, writing:


    The X experiment was conducted to test for Y.

    Instead of


    We conducted X experiment to test for Y.

    does not change the fact that you conducted said experiment and you are sharing your results and your thoughts on this experiment. Moreover, the simple passive sample uses 11% more space than its active equivalent (45 char vs 40 char), and the difference in length can increases in more complex sentences.

    Some publications, like Nature, recognize active's advantages* and encourage active voice. However, the leading publication in my field (and my adviser) only accepts passive voice in its style guide. How would somebody (or some people) amend this requirement to at least accept active voice?

    To be clear, I fully realize changing this is beyond the scope of action for a single grad student (I also don't want to "die for this hill"). However, I do want to learn how a publication may come to change its writing requirements.


    Professors: think of the active voice's spatial advantages in terms of page limits...

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