ERIC Number: ED208421
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
The Passive in Technical and Scientific Writing.
Almost every discussion of technical or scientific writing style mentions the passive voice as a stylistic choice to avoid. However, the passive voice does have legitimate uses in technical and scientific writing--the problem is to define the appropriate or effective uses and the inappropriate or ineffective ones. An examination of passive voice usage in six scientific and technical journal articles showed that more than 70% of the passive structures were truncated, or the subject deleted. Generally, the full passive was used when the subject of the passive was the theme of the discourse segment, or if the agent was so complex linguistically that its placement in the subject position could lead to a perceptually more difficult sentence. Truncated passives were often used in descriptions of experimental procedures, standard procedures, the state of knowledge, and natural processes. It would seem that the main fault of many prescriptions about the use of the passive voice is that they are overgeneralizations. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Passive Voice
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (32nd, Dallas, TX, March 26-28, 1981).