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How to Write a Research Paper in the Third Person


The point of view you write in affects how readers react to your ideas. When writing a research paper, avoid using first person words like "I" and "we," and second person point of view using "you," because they generally create less formal language. Although personal essays, lab experiments or survey results sections of papers may use some first person language, third person point of view most often gets used in formal academic writing and when referencing other people's work in order to lend integrity to the ideas.

Point of View Definitions

Third person uses nouns like people and pronouns such as he, she, they, it, his, her, their, its, him and them. Third person writing means writing about others rather than yourself or your reader, as in the sentence, Harrison (2014) explained the findings in detail.

Using Third Person

Maintaining third person point of view requires explaining ideas without direct references to yourself or your readers. For instance, to explain personal research results in third person, write I determined, rather than the research indicated. Sometimes papers may use first person language when recounting a study the writer conducted, but even then, third person creates more formality. When explaining information gathered from outside resources, always use third person language, such as Harris (2014) discovered similar consequences of active duty.

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