Passive voice in academic writing; why is it not recommended?

When writing academic papers in English I use three different spelling and proofreading tools: Word, Grammarly, and Ginger. In the settings of all these tools, I specify that the document is an academic article, where possible.

Before I posted this question, I had a look at the question «Is using passive voice "bad form"?», but there they discuss more general cases, regular texts, while I’m interested in a subject «the passive voice in academic writing», which usually has different rules and recommendation, comparing to general essays.

What is strange for me, why do all these instruments mark the usage of passive voice as a style error? What’s wrong with the passive voice in terms of academic writing? I know, that passive voice is not optimal for regular texts and difficult to understand, comparing to the active voice, but I always assumed that for the academic writing passive voice suits well, isn’t it?


In any type of writing—academic or informal or anything in between—passive voice can be used. As was noted in the posted question, in a number of word processing programs any passive constructions are marked as problematic, but such style advice is not required to be obeyed.

Moreover, again as pointed out above, academic writing has long been viewed as an area of expression in which passive voice is especially accepted and even respected. Indeed, the case is not overstated that in academic writing passive voice is widely preferred.

Often the more serious problems that are encountered in the publishing process are related to the reactions of the editors or reviewers who are employed in the vetting of the manuscript. But here, too, the opposition to passive voice may be dismissed as an irrational bias or as a vestige of a time when arbitrary style rules were widely adopted and indiscriminately enforced.

Whether the hostility to passive voice in Word and similar programs will be retained is to be doubted, as prescriptive formulas for “good writing” are more and more generally discounted or rejected outright. In the future what is written may be permitted to be left unchallenged by artificial gatekeepers of theories that are grounded in a style that is outdated and largely discredited.

Source : Link , Question Author : Mike , Answer Author : Sven Yargs

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