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14 Reporting styles


As with every type of text ‘genre’, there are conventions associated with designing research reports. Whilst you should be aware of these conventions, as they have a powerful impact on the ways in which your work will be received, you can chose the style you wish to use. Your choice will depend on factors such as; your intended audience, how you wish to present yourself publicly and so on. Many people have learnt that ‘academic’ writing styles require the use of a ‘formal’ style of reporting, which is impersonal and written in the passive tense, e.g. as follows:


Convention


Passive/ active tense


Use of the ‘first person’ (we/ I)


‘Academic’ style


Learners were first arranged into two groups


It can be argued that these results indicate …..


Less formal ‘non academic’ style


My co-researcher and I arranged our learners into two groups


I believe that these results indicate….


Such ‘formal’/ ‘academic’ style conventions, may partly be the result of the historical development of ‘scientific method’ and the expectation that research needs to be clearly seen as objective, evidence-based rather than based on personal belief or opinion. As such, self-reference (e.g. through the use of active voice and the personal pronoun ‘I’) has been discouraged to avoid any impression of subjectivity and lack of ‘true scientific practice’.


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