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Purdue OWL: APA Formatting and Style Guide, Using first person in apa research paper

Using first person in apa research paper

On the other end of the point-of-view spectrum, second-person point of view is not acceptable under the APA style. This means avoiding the second-person pronouns of “you” and “your.”

Continually swapping from the first-person to the third-person POV may leave the reader confused. Who exactly is talking here? Why does one part of the essay sound so detached and unaffected, while the next suddenly appears to be intimate and personal?


Trek to Teach is a nonprofit organization that sends fluent English speakers to teach in Nepal near the Himalayas. In addition to teaching, Trek to Teach strengthens local communities by helping schools build infrastructure, paint their classrooms, and find furniture.

It’s pretty easy to avoid second person in formal writing, so the main source of confusion comes from whether to use first or third person.

Most formal writing, including APA papers, uses the third person point of view. Third person makes ideas sound less subjective since it removes direct reference to the writer. It also creates a more generalized statement. For example, "Researchers first need to determine participants" (written in the third person) conveys a more formal, objective tone than "You first need to determine participants" (second person) and "I first needed to determine participants" (first person). Instructors, institutions and publishers generally require writing in the third person to maintain a more formal tone.

Many times, high school students are told not to use first person (“I,” “we,” “my,” “us,” and so forth) in their essays. As a college student, you should realize that this is a rule that can and should be broken—at the right time, of course.

However, avoid using we to refer to broader sets of people—researchers, students, psychologists, Americans, people in general, or even all of humanity—without specifying who you mean (a practice called using the editorial “we” ). This can introduce ambiguity into your writing.

The sources part of an APA reference list are only those that are traceable, and can be used by others. Because a personal interview does not constitute recoverable data, it should not be included in an APA reference list. Instead a personal interview should be referenced as a parenthetical citation. For example: (J. Smith, personal communication, May 17, 2008). If you would like to include a personal interview as part of your APA reference list, then include the interviewee, the date of the interview, and the type of interview. See the fictional examples below:

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Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2015-09-10 01:04:41

 · It is totally acceptable to write in the first person in an APA ... This necessitates using the first person... Me”: How to Talk About Yourself in an ...

What do you mean by tone  in writing? In writing, tone can refer to: a writer’s style, character, or attitudes. As a reader, you will get certain feelings from a writer’s attitude toward certain topics. For example, if a writer expresses his or her passion in some topics, then the tone of the writing will very excited. A writer’s tone can be different from genre to genre, and from topic to topic. A Writer’s tone can be formal, informal, subjective, objective, critical, etc.

The first person can be used to make writing more concise when providing personal reflection, stating a position, or outlining the structure of an assignment.

The guiding principle for nonhandicapping language is to maintain the integrity of individuals as whole human beings by avoiding language that

Table of contents

  1. Uses of Personal Pronouns
  2. Lingering Controversy and Hard/Soft Fields
  3. Editor’s Guidelines for Use
  4. Things to Keep in Mind
  5. Bibliography

This lack of a standard for pronoun use puts editors in a tough position when they approach a text.  Which disciplines accept personal pronoun use and to what extent?  What purposes can personal pronouns acceptably serve?


Using first person in apa research paper

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APA Style Blog: Use of First Person in APA Style

APA Style Blog: “Me, Me, Me”: How to Talk About Yourself.

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using first person in apa research paper
using first person in apa research paper

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