Country Report (Pro)


Leave Yourself out of It

First-person writing is writing that's done from the "I" point of view. For example,

First-person writing is great for all sorts of things, but it is frowned upon in academic writing. In a scholarly essay, you are supposed to keep the "I" point of view out of it.

Of course, you are not exactly writing a scholarly essay; what you are writing is more of a travel piece, and travel writers often do use "I" to tell you about their experiences. But this essay is a formal paper, in a way. You are certainly citing your sources in a scholarly way. So let's stick to the rules of scholarly writing.

And that means, we need to leave the "I" out of it.

Don't Cite Personal Experience

This rule often presents a problem to students who have visited a country and want to use their personal experiences as "evidence." Unfortunately, citing your personal experience is tricky, because it really isn't allowed under the rules of MLA. Your experience doesn't count as "evidence", except in certain circumstances. (For example, if you have written a book or published a research paper, then you are allowed to cite those things as evidence). There are, however, ways to get around this rule.

For example, imagine that you visited France with your family, and your impression of the country was that the streets are very clean. So you want to use this piece of evidence in your essay. What you can't write is this:

You can, however, do this:

Go home tonight and ask your father: "Dad, do you remember that time we went to France? Do you remember how clean the streets were?" Then have a nice conversation with your Dad about how clean the streets in France are.

Now, you can write:

Second, the streets in France are very clean. In fact, according to Robert Jones, a tourist who visited France in 2015, the streets in France are cleaner than in any other country he has visited (Jones).

In this case, what you've done is acceptable, because, instead of citing your personal experience, you have cited Robert Jones (who is, of course, your father). And on your Works Cited page, you are going to cite the "interview" that you had with your father. The proper way to cite an interview in a Works Cited page is this:

This may seem like a lot of trouble in order to avoid using the pronoun "I", but rules are rules. And "I" does not belong in a scholarly research paper.