Scientists, use active voice instead! Put your object first: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Not "Why was the road crossed by the chicken?" Sainani said some students believe passive voice sounds more authoritative, but it doesn't. "There's a tradition in academia of using a lot of nouns instead of verbs, and of using the passive voice. You're exposed to that, so you think, 'If I don't sound this way, I'm not going to be part of the club,'" Sainani said.