As an expert editor in APA 6/7, it was extremely difficult for me to grasp the new change in APA 7 that dictates that first-person shall be used instead of third person in academic writing.  For example, it used to be you never used person pronouns when conducting academic writing. If one had used I, me, or my, we would change it to third person, this researcher, this author, etc. Not anymore! APA 7 4.16 states. “ If you are writing a paper by yourself, use the pronoun “I”; do not use the pronoun “we” to refer to yourself if you do not have coauthors” and “Do not refer to yourself or your coauthors in the third person as “the author(s)” or “the researcher(s)”.

Bias-Free Language

The seventh edition of the manual updates guidelines for writing about “age, disability, gender, racial and ethnic identity, and sexual orientation” to bring them in line with current best practices. The guidelines are too extensive to reproduce here, but a few of the most important and general instructions are described below. Consult chapter 5 of the APA Publication Manual (7th ed.) for more details.

  • Use “person-first” language whenever possible. For instance, “a man with epilepsy” is generally preferable to “an epileptic” or “an epileptic man.”
  • Similarly, avoid using adjectives as nouns to describe groups of people (a la “the Asians” or “drug users”). Instead, use these adjectives to describe specific nouns or use descriptive noun phrases (a la “Asian people” or “people who use drugs”).
  • Use specific labels rather than general ones when possible. For example, “cisgender men” is more specific than “men.” Similarly, “Korean Americans” is more specific than “Asian Americans” or “Asians.”
  • When describing differences between groups of people, focus on the qualities that are relevant to the situation at hand. For example, in a study of sex chromosome-linked illnesses, study participants’ biological sexes are probably relevant, while participants’ sexual orientations are probably not.
  • In general, respect the language that people use to refer to themselves, and understand that the language used to refer to certain groups of people can and does change over time. Recognize also that group members may not always express total agreement about this language.

I will cover more new aspects of APA 7 ion the next blog article.  For certified APA 6/7 editing please give our doctoral scholars a call toll-free at 888.645.2425 for a free consultation.