Scientists now frequently use the active voice in the majority of their published papers, including utilizing the subject "we" in the Materials and Methods section. Check with your teacher or TA to see if you can escape the passive by using the first person "I" or "us" in your lab reports.
The active voice is used because it indicates a personal involvement on the part of the writer, which can make for more interesting reading. In addition, using the active voice can help to avoid spelling errors and other writing mistakes that can occur when using the passive voice.
Both the active and passive voices are commonly used in writing reports for students. However, reports written in the active voice sound more professional than those written in the passive voice. This is because scientists use language that pertains to their profession, such as conducting research or experiments, so they usually write in the active voice rather than in the passive voice.
Students may choose to use the passive voice when writing about subjects that are not their own work, such as an experiment conducted by another scientist. For example, a student might write "We injected dye into mice and harvested their organs three days later." Although this report would still be considered scientific, it would not sound as professional as one written by the student who actually performed the experiment since they would not have any involvement in its publication.
It is important to note that both the active and passive voices can be used incorrectly.
The active voice is a sentence structure that emphasizes the person who performs an activity. Until recently, this tone was regarded as advantageous for scientific writing, and writers were strongly counseled to avoid using the active voice, particularly the words "I" and "we," in their academic research articles. Today, however, many scholars believe that the use of the active voice can be beneficial for certain types of papers.
In her book The Trouble with Authority, Susan Leigh Blackmore argues that using the active voice is important for feminist writing because it removes the authorial mantle from men. In other words, by writing in the third-person, women are acknowledging others' role in history and society. Other critics have argued that the active voice helps make papers more accessible to a general audience by removing any ambiguity about who is doing what.
There is some evidence to support these arguments. Writing in the first person tends to be more difficult than using the passive voice or the active voice. This is probably because if you write in the first person, you need to think carefully about each word you use, since it can only refer to yourself or someone else. Using proper nouns or common words that have different meanings when used alone as opposed to together, can help alleviate this problem somewhat.
The passive voice can be used to shift the attention of a text away from the researcher. It is especially relevant in scientific journals' "Method" section. When use the passive voice, ensure that the performance is either evident or irrelevant.
However, in scientific writing, passive voice is more commonly used since it allows one to write without utilizing personal pronouns or the names of specific researchers as the subjects of sentences (see the third example above). While it is possible to write in active voice using scientific terminology, it is easier to read if you utilize the passive voice.