What Constitutes Good Writing in Political Science? Disciplinary and Student Perspectives on Use of the Active Voice
Posted: 22 Feb 2011
We sense that over the past decades norms have shifted with respect to scholarly writing in political science. Specifically, we believe political scientists are more inclined to write in the active voice and use the first person pronoun (I). Yet we are skeptical whether students are following the same trend. This raises questions of how students learn what constitutes good writing and why their norms they follow may differ from those adhered to by faculty members. In the present article we conduct an empirical assessment of student and faculty writing norms. We begin by testing whether the trend we perceive in academic writing is in fact present in political science journals. We then present results of a survey of students regarding political science writing in the active and passive voice. This survey provides a rich source of data about how students evaluate writing. We close by discussing the implications for pedagogy and for the discipline.
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