This paper is concerned with the analysis of two excerpts from scholarly articles and aims to study the use of self-reference and the legitimacy of using the personal life experience in scholarly writing. The excerpts belong to different academic fields and provide the content appropriate for each field. However, the writers step beyond the use of the so-called “discursive “I” and allow a glimpse into their personal experience.
In the first article, by Michael Agar, the departure from the traditional academic style is evident. The author describes his first steps in a role of “intercultural communicator”, and the situation itself provides the transcendence beyond the level of the text, and in unorthodox manner the writer’s personality becomes a mediator and intercultural communicator between the reader and the text. According to Ken Hyland, the self-citation is extremely important for building a professional reputation and gaining reader’s credit, as well as promoting the writer’s experience, confidence and his role in the exploration of research subject (Hyland 16-17).
Agar’s article is a good illustration of this point; its rhetoric implications involve a good sense of timing and its dynamics absorb reader’s attention from the first passage. In his research of intercultural communication field, the writer goes beyond the simple data gathering, in fact, his personal experience precedes and extends the usual ways of conducting the research when he claims that he was baptized by fire and found a new purpose in a role that he had never experienced before (Agar par.2-3). Arguably this is the case that can be illustrated by a quotation from a writing guidance article: “While first person can definitely be overused in academic essays … there are moments in a paper when it is not only appropriate, but it is actually effective and/or persuasive to use first person” (Pack par. 2).
The second article by Alice Hom and Ming-Yueng S. is written within an innovative structure of a dialogue, and also begins with author’s self-citation. Such non-traditional approach is justified by the choice of the article topic, as well as the deeply personal experience that the writers rely upon. The article focuses on a specified research of Asian Pacific gay and lesbian writing, primarily because the authors are able to relate to this idea. Both of them use personal experience, as well as rhetorical “ethos”, to persuade the reader and to state their credibility and familiarity with the question. The form of the dialogue allows to imitate the reader’s involvement in discussion, which becomes a powerful tool of rhetorical appeal.
According to an article provided by Duke University, the use of personal voice and demonstration of involvement in a subject can strengthen academic argument, especially when concerning a topic like origins, gender or race (“Because I Said So’ p. 1-4), which is exactly the case with Hom and Ming-Yueng’s work. The discursive “I” in this work turns into a comprehensive reference to personal experience and not merely a “descriptive mechanism through which the reader is introduced to the writer/ researcher”, which can be “easily be switched out with 3rd person variations” (Lewis par. 2).
Moreover, this rhetorical mode is further emphasized by the way authors speak about themselves, being a first- and second-generation Asians raised and educated in the United States, and express their concerns about the limitations their origins and language puts onto their research, however accepting the need to concentrate on this context based on the localization of their research and experience (Hom and Ming-Yueng par. 1-3).
Agar, Michael. “The intercultural frame.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 18.2 (1994): 221-237.
Because I Said So: Effective Use of the First-Person Perspective and the Personal Voice in Academic Writing. n.d. Web.
Hom, Alice Y. and S. Ming-Yuen. “Premature gestures: A speculative dialogue on Asian Pacific lesbian and gay writing.” Journal of Homosexuality 26.2/3 (1994): 21-51.
Hyland, Ken. “Self-citation and self-reference: Credibility and promotion in academic publication.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 54.3 (2003): 251-259. Web.
Lewis, Aquisha 2015. Putting the ‘I’ in Academic Writing : Discursive I and You. Web.
Pack, Jenna. n.d. Using First Person in an Academic Essay: When is It Okay? n.d. Web.