One of the most common difficulties students experience when they write essays and other types of assignments is objectivity – or, rather, lack thereof. Staying objective is an important component of any kind of academic work, whether it is an essay or a dissertation – yet modern education does a poor job of teaching students how to stick to it in their writing. So how do you stay objective? Let us share some ideas on this topic.
Some people say that using facts and statistics is important only in expository writing, but it is not true. If you want to stay objective, be as specific as possible whenever you can. Instead of “sometimes”, say “approximately 5 times a year”. Instead of “almost everybody”, say “93 percent”. Instead of “long ago”, say “in 1903”. The less room for speculation you leave, the more solid your writing seems.
While you are not barred from having your own opinion on the subject, objective writing tends to distance itself from the personal thoughts of the author. If you do not mention yourself, you make the essay less about you and more about its contents. Do not say, “I believe”. Say, “According to Johnson (2005)”. If you do not have specific sources to refer to, you still have to avoid referring to yourself. You can use structures like “the likely conclusion is that…” or “apparently…”.
Words like “always”, “never”, “extremely” do not just overgeneralize things; they are usually too strong and absolute. If you say something like, “The growing body of evidence suggests that strict parenting style always negatively affects children in the long run”, the reader is bound to doubt what you say. It is too sweeping a statement to treat it seriously. Even if in your strict parents essay you come to this conclusion, you still leave some room for speculation. It may happen “often”, but hardly “always”.
Words like “good”, “bad”, “amazing” or “terrible” unequivocally express your point of view and evaluate the subject matter. Therefore, they are, by definition, a sign of subjective perception of the topic. An objective writer never lets his/her own personal evaluation seep into his/her academic work.
If we are talking about objectivity at all, it means that there are multiple viewpoints on the topic in question. Being objective means presenting the topic from multiple positions and explaining why you believe your own point of view to be the correct one. You should give other evaluations and explanations a chance: mention them in your writing, offer the typical arguments in their favor and explain why you believe them to be wrong using proper evidence.
To show your subjectivity about something, you do not have to lie about it outright. It is enough to refrain from mentioning something that is inconvenient from your point of view. If you want to be objective, you should always mention arguments that oppose your viewpoint or evidence that weakens your position. Not being afraid to provide all the information on the subject is a sign of strong, objective, and mature views.
The reader cannot answer your questions. When you ask them, you do not so much expect the reader to answer as you try to evoke certain feelings in the audience. This, by definition, presupposes a certain degree of subjectivity. If you want to maintain objectivity, avoid asking questions. If necessary, reword them as statements. It will help you keep your writing less personal and focus on presenting the facts the way they are.
When you state something, you should always be able to back your words up with a quotation or a statistic. Never make unsubstantiated claims, even if they seem to be self-evident to you. This means that even before you start writing, you have to extensively explore your topic and make sure you use reliable and trustworthy sources of information. Always cite the sources you use lest you get accused of plagiarism. When you use a source, always cross-check the facts you borrow to see if they are corroborated by other authors and publications. It may seem like a lot of extra work, but you cannot consider yourself to be a serious researcher if you do not research your subject matter well enough.
Maintaining objectivity in your academic work is something that is rarely mentioned in writing guides – mostly because it is considered to be self-evident. However, many students’ work leaves much to be desired in this respect, and you can stand out from the crowd simply by following the tips listed in this article. Stay objective, do your research, stick to the facts, and you are going to excel at your work!