1 2 3
In scientific publications the usage is quite clear: "you" is NEVER used, "we" only if general truths are discussed, which ... takes more space. I cannot say to what extend these rules apply to everyday language, let alone to highschool essays.

I think that the usage has changed a lot in my life-time. When I was studying Physics & Chemistry at A-level, over 40 years ago, we were taught to write all our lab reports in the passive voice. "The liquid was put in the beaker.."
Nowadays I believe there is a difference between what is taught at school level and what is practised elsewhere. Certainly the last time I worked in a school, the accepted form at that level was a straightforward past-tense narrative "We put the liquid in the beaker.."

Mike Stevens
narrowboat Felis Catus II
Web site www.mike-stevens.co.uk
No man is an island. So is Man.
? "Einde O'Callaghan" (Email Removed) ?? ??? ??
Can you cite a source for your very precise and definitive statement of the "rules"?

Just take a look at any scientific paper from the American Physical Society, or ask anyone who ever has refereed any.
I am not suggesting that this is the most correct english, but it is definitely common practice when it comes to research papers.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
advice used, everyone, the passive

Can you cite a source for your very precise and definitive statement of the "rules"?

Just take a look at any scientific paper from the American Physical Society, or ask anyone who ever has refereed any. I am not suggesting that this is the most correct english, but it is definitely common practice when it comes to research papers.

Thank you for your reply. My memory from my brief period of studying science at university in the dim and distant past is that the preferred impersonal structure was the passive and not "one". But perhaps styles have changed. It doesn't seem to have penetrated any of teh style/usage books that I've used over the years as a teacher of English as a foreign language.
Regards, Einde O'Callaghan
? "Einde O'Callaghan" (Email Removed) ?? ??? ??
Thank you for your reply. My memory from my brief period of studying science at university in the dim and ... any of teh style/usage books that I've used over the years as a teacher of English as a foreign language.[/nq]Many journals (especially letters) offer a limited space for each article, usually four pages. Authors usually try to accomodate as many data as possible in these four pages, and believe me sometimes a couple of lines can make the difference between getting an article published or not!!! I have to admit, that those articles do not always provide the best linguistic examples. I simply state what is common usage. Most authors are not native speakers, and perhaps it is simply a tranfer from the german form "man", or the french "on".

English has become the international science language after all. Nowadays even russian journals publish in english. Italian, and german ones have been doing so for years, only french resist... In any case, it is really very often to be read. When it comes to review articles, where space is no issue, then the passive form appears more often I guess. I haven't carried out any statistics however... And of course I repeat, that my experience (being a physicist at a university) is connected to physical sciences only, and certainly not linguistics or litterature.

Regards
Sas