What inspires me – a reply of some sort to Aslihan Agaoglu

This post was supposed to be a somewhat brief list of things that inspire me to write my PhD, but after reading PhD candidate Aslihan Agaoglu’s post I decided to write about my thoughts after reading her piece. 

First of all, I agree with Ms. Agaoglu in that academic writing is utterly booring and more often than not we are expected to push the ‘I’ to the back, thus making our texts sound passive and, let’s face it, boring. 

However, I also think it depends on many factors whether the magical ‘I’ is accepted when producing scientific/academic texts. Institutions, disciplines, colleagues – all have an influence on whether we feel confident and safe to use active voice. Scholars such as Helen Sword and Kaj Sand-Jensen have written wonderful texts criticising the lack of active voice in academia.

While Ms. Agaoglu cautiously daydreams about using the active voice more often in her academic writing endeavours, I’d adopted a more bold approach by stating that we should just do it. In fact, I’m not afraid to use it, as I believe my texts to deliver their ideas and arguments even better than if I had to resort to passive voice. This, I believe, is a matter of taste, not rhetorical power. 

Getting back to the title of this post, what inspires my work? Challenging existing norms by making room for more diverse discussions in academic communities. 

PS. I think this issue is also closely connected to publishing one’s work in academic journals, which, in turn, are governed by multinational corporations reaping insane profits from our work. So a question that originally seemed to be about rhetorics is also connected to institutional challenges and possibilities.

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