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APA Style. Guidelines to Reduce Bias in Language. Describe at the appropriate level of specificity. When writing scientifically, be precise. Use words that are accurate, clear, and free from bias. Man is not as accurate as men and women to refer to human beings.

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Apa style

APA Style

Guidelines to Reduce Bias in Language


Describe at the appropriate level of specificity

Describe at the appropriate level of specificity

  • When writing scientifically, be precise. Use words that are accurate, clear, and free from bias.

  • Man is not as accurate as men and women to refer to human beings.

  • For ages, give a specific range (ages 65-83) rather than broad category (over 65)

  • Racial and ethnic groups: be appropriately specific and sensitive. Instead of Asian American or Hispanic America, describe by nation or region of origin (e.g. Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans)

  • Sexual orientation: some people interpret gay as referring to men and women, others include only men. For clarification, the terms gay men and lesbians are preferred.


Describe at the appropriate level of specificity1

Describe at the appropriate level of specificity

  • Clinical terms such as borderline and at risk should be avoided unless properly explained. Specify the diagnosis that is borderline (e.g. “people with borderline personality disorder”) and identify the risk and the people it involves (e.g. “children at risk for early school dropout”)

  • Gender is cultural and refers to men and women as social groups. Sex is biological. Sex should not be confused with sexual behavior.


Be sensitive to labels

Be sensitive to labels

  • Call people what they prefer to be called.

  • Avoid labeling when possible.

  • Use as neutral terms as possible.

  • Bad: the demented

  • Still bad: demented group

  • Better: dementia group

  • Avoid the word normal. Bad comparison: lesbians vs. normal women ; Better comparison: lesbians vs. heterosexual women


Acknowledge participation

Acknowledge Participation

  • Acknowledge that people participated in your study

  • Don’t use the word subjects

  • Appropriate terms: participants, individuals, college students, children, respondents

  • When discussing statistics, however, subjects and sample are appropriate

  • Use active voice rather than passive (students completed the survey, rather than students were given the survey)


Avoid gender bias

Avoid Gender Bias

  • Choose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that specifically describe participants

  • Do not use the masculine pronoun he to refer to both sexes

  • Do not use –man as a generic ending for an occupation, such as policeman.

  • More examples: “When an individual conducts self-appraisal, that person is stronger;” “therapists who are too much like their clients can lose their objectivity;” “a researcher must apply for the grant”

  • Using he or she often can be tiresome. Avoid he/she and (s)he.


Sexual orientation

Sexual Orientation

  • Lesbians and gay men are preferable to homosexual when regarding specific groups.

  • Homosexuality associated with negative stereotypes, and some believe it refers only to men

  • Gay can be interpreted too broadly or too narrowly

  • APA approved terms: lesbians, gay men, bisexual women or men

  • Same-gender, male-male, female-female, and male-female sexual behavior are appropriate terms for specific instances of sexual behavior.


Racial and ethnic identity

Racial and Ethnic Identity

  • Some prefer Black, others African American. Both acceptable

  • Negro and Afro-American are inappropriate

  • Capitalized. Black and White vs black and white

  • Do not hyphenate multiword names such as Asian American

  • Other accepted terms: Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, American Indian, Native American, Asian, Asian American, or more specific subgroups such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc.


Disabilities

Disabilities

  • Use nonhandicapping language

  • Do not equate people with their conditions

  • Bad: neurotics, the disabled, stroke victim, cripple

  • Use disability to refer to an attribute of a person and handicap to refer to the source. E.g. steps and curbs handicap people who require a ramp

  • Challenged and special should only be used if preferred by your study population


Apa style

Age

  • Be specific, avoid open ended ranges such as under 18 and over 65

  • Boy and girl are appropriate for high school age and younger

  • Young man and young woman, male adolescent and female adolescent are appropriate

  • Men and women for college age and older

  • Older person is more preferable than elderly

  • Dementia preferred to senility, but best is senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type


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