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Guidelines for Avoiding Racial/Ethnic Bias in Language

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Are there guidelines to follow in order to avoid racial and ethic bias in language when I am writing paper in APA style (5th ed.)? Proposed guidelines by the American Psychological Association as specified in their publication manual (5th ed.)(2001), with examples.

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This solution provides specific guidelines for avoiding racial/ethnic bias in language when writing a paper using APA format.

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According to the Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs and Publications and Communications Board
American Psychological Association:

"APA as an organization is committed both to science and to the fair treatment of individuals and groups, ...[and] authors of journal articles are required to avoid writing in a manner that reinforces questionable attitudes and assumptions about people" (APA, 1983, p. 43).

The current edition of APA's Publication Manual advises authors on the use of nonsexist language. The new edition contains an expanded section on using language that is free as well of racial or ethnic bias, heterosexism, bias toward people with disabilities, ageism, and other kinds of bias.

The Guidelines for Avoiding Racial/Ethnic Bias constitute one of the working papers that was used in the development of this expanded section prepared jointly by the Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs and the Publications and Communications Board of the APA.

It is critical that the science and practice of psychology adequately describe its research participants and clientele. Demographic variables, such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, and so forth, are important in a host of psychological and behavioral phenomena. Adequacy of designation is essential if comparisons are to be made across groups or if the potential exists for such comparisons in replications, literature reviews, or secondary data analyzes.

When relevant to the investigation, authors should report the results of analyzes examining the role of these demographic variables.

It may also be necessary to indicate the group membership of the investigator or author when that membership could influence the responses of subjects or the author's interpretations.

Similarly, when referring to women or minority groups, authors should avoid the passive voice, subordinate clauses, and the "understood" subject. The passive voice suggests individuals are acted on rather than being actors (e.g., the students were given the survey). Subordinate clauses can suggest that persons are ...

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