I am authoring a single author paper. Usually when referring to oneself in a paper, 'we' is used. In single author papers I found both 'we' and 'I' (e.g., 'here we/I report xyz').

Which one is stylistically better? To me 'we' seems odd when I read a single author paper.

  • 5
    Already answered here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/2945/…
    – Dan Romik
    Nov 23, 2016 at 16:58
  • I think your question has more to do with the fact that it's a scientific paper than the appropriateness of writing style. Nov 23, 2016 at 19:17
  • @DanRomik thank you for that link, this basically answered my question.
    – Dahlai
    Nov 24, 2016 at 10:28
  • What did you use finally? We or I? I think I am encountering the same problem here.
    – Lin Cheng
    Aug 3, 2020 at 21:27
  • I followed @DanRomik's and Monical Cellio's suggestions
    – Dahlai
    Aug 5, 2020 at 7:55

3 Answers 3


The convention in scientific writing, at least in the hard sciences, is to avoid "I" even for single-author papers. I suspect (but can't prove) that this is why you see so much passive voice in such papers ("the doohickey was then frobitzed to induce a somethingorother reaction").

According to this well-received answer on Academia, you can view use of "we" as an editorial "we" or "we, as in the author and the readers". The latter approach works better for descriptive writing ("we see the following results...") than reporting ("we did X").

Ultimately you should base your decision on the submission requirements of the institution where you intend to publish the paper. But in general, "I" is uncommon, "we" is used even for single-author papers, and you can use "we" in a way that doesn't have to seem weird.


If it's a single author, use I. I is for singular, and if you are doing the research and all that stuff by yourself, then take credit, unless someone's helped you. If you use "we", then there must be more people other than you doing the research, or someone has been helping you.

Check here for more information.


If you are the only one behind the research and the writing behind the paper, I is a singular term and should therefore should be used instead of we. There is no "we" behind the paper if there was only one person masterminding the project. Although, If this was a formal Scientific paper, It Usually is incorrect to refer to ones self during the script; the point is to present your point, not the fact that you found it(although if you found something completely unique and incredibly interesting, by all means, announce the fact of your hand behind the discovery-outside of the paper.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.