Once you have considered your audience and established your purpose, it’s time to think about voice. Your voice in your writing is essentially how you sound to your audience. Voice is an important part of writing a research paper, but many students never stop to think about voice in their writing. It’s important to remember voice is relative to audience and purpose. The voice you decide to use will have a great impact on your audience.
Students sometimes make errors in voice, which can have a negative impact on an essay. For example, when writing researched essays for the first time, many students lose their voices entirely to research, and the essay reads more like a list of what other people have said on a particular topic than a real essay. In a research essay, you want to balance your voice with the voices from your sources.
It’s also easy to use a voice that is too informal for college writing, especially when you are just becoming familiar with academia and college expectations. You should avoid slang and familiar language in most academic papers. The tips on Academic Voice in the Writing Process area of the Excelsior OWL are helpful.
Ultimately, thinking about your writing rhetorically will help you establish a strong, appropriate voice for your writing.