Writing from an Objective Point of View


Research papers, as opposed to essays, letters, editorials, and other opinion pieces, should be based completely on academic investigation performed by the writer. All such documents should be written from the perspective of an uninvolved third party. The writer should not insert his or her opinion or tailor the document so that it is guided by a point of view.

For example, a research paper on Abraham Lincoln’s presidency should contain verified information, and not the writer’s opinions. That does not mean that the writer is not allowed to draw conclusions or make statements which evaluate Lincoln’s presidential years. But those conclusions and statements must be objectively drawn from the research and they should be stated unemotionally. It would be appropriate to write “Lincoln missed several opportunities to come to terms with the secessionist states, and thus, prevent the Civil War” (followed by a source citation). It would even be correct to write “Many historians have indicated that Lincoln should have pursued opportunities to avoid the Civil War” or “There is evidence that Lincoln could have done more to avoid the Civil War.” However, it would be unacceptable to write “Lincoln should have prevented the Civil War” (whether or not the writer cites a source).

It is also inappropriate, in most instances, to insert first person pronouns in rigorously researched academic papers. Of course, if the writer feels compelled to state that he or she was involved in the experiment or survey or other method that was involved in the research, then it would be reasonable to write “I did….” or “We conducted.” Other than that, the text should be directed at the reader from a distance, as in the following: “The basic research involved distributing questionnaires to 250 first year medical students…..”
Similarly, the writer should not refer to readers as “you.” Rather than writing “This is important information that may benefit you,” it would be more correct to write “This is important information that may benefit all people (or all Americans or all women, etc.).”

Research papers should be devoid of emotion. That does not mean that the writer is forbidden to use strong language. However, while it is not permissible to write “Terrorists are disgusting people who should be wiped out,” it would be suitable to write “It is the responsibility of governments to apprehend, try, and punish terrorists who resort to merciless violence.”

All academic papers that are based on research, as opposed to those which are intended to be point of view pieces, must be written so that readers are presented with facts and with conclusions that have been drawn from those facts. The value of research papers depends on the depth and quality of the research and the conclusions that are drawn from it. The opinions of the writer should be held in abeyance.