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Scholarly Voice: Precision and Clarity

Precision and Clarity

Writing with precision and clarity (see Section 3.09 of the APA Manual) involves choosing language that communicates the intended meaning unambiguously. The words, phrases, and sentence structures a writer selects must not allow for misinterpretation. The pages in this section provide guidance on precise, clear language for capstone writing.

  • Language to Avoid contains descriptions of common problems in academic writing that compromise scholarly voice, such as the use of jargon, colloquialisms, clichés, and pejorative language.
  • Active vs. Passive Voice provides an explanation of the APA preference for active rather than passive sentences and examples of appropriate uses of both active and passive voice in academic writing.
  • Precise vs. Vague Descriptions illustrates how imprecise language in study procedure descriptions, literature summaries, and comparisons can be confusing for readers and undermine the quality of scholarly writing.
  • Use of It contains specific guidance for avoiding ambiguous uses of the pronoun it.
  • Use of That differentiates grammatical functions of the word that and addresses appropriate uses of that in academic writing.
  • Anthropomorphism contains a discussion of anthropomorphism, or the inappropriate attribution of human characteristics or actions to nonhuman entities in academic writing, along with strategies to identify and avoid it.
  • Writing in the First Person contains a detailed explanation for why capstone writers should refer to themselves with first-person pronouns when appropriate (rather than using third-person terms such as the researcher). Using first-person pronouns in this way ensures compliance with APA guidelines while preventing awkward statements that can leave readers confused.