Avoiding Bias or Offense in Communication

Step 1: Decide on your topic

Consult Chapter 5 of the APA manual and select one of these topics for your paper.

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender
  4. Racial and Ethnic Identity
  5. Sexual orientation
  6. Socioeconomic Status

Step 2: Work out what kind of paper you are going to write. there are 3 options.

  1. Definition Argument

The purpose of these kinds of arguments is to, as the title implies, define a term.

When planning your paper, try to consider if you are doing these things:

  • Are you defining these words to be used in a special way? Are you setting out clear definitions for using language in a specific way?
  • Are you explaining to the reader that this term needs to be carefully defined for a specific reason?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then you might want to structure your paper as a definition argument.

  • Evaluation argument

This is an argument of values, not just a statement of personal preference.

When planning your paper, consider if you are doing the following:

  • Are you arguing that the terminology used to avoid bias or offense is a moral need? Are you defining a good and a bad way to discuss these populations?
  • Are you going to defend why these rules are necessary for discussing bias and offense in relation to your chosen topic?
  • Are there criteria or reasons that evaluate why these language choices are necessary?

If you answer yes to these questions, then you will want to structure your paper as an evaluation argument.

  • The Rebuttal or Refutation Essay

This is a form of writing where you are challenging someone’s argument. This is where you build from someone else’s argument and point out the fallacies in their reasoning, or the issues with how that person presents their point. When planning your paper, consider if you are doing the following:

  • Are you stating an opponent’s argument, stating your claim, and then backing up your claim with evidence?
  • Are you specifically arguing with past practices of how these populations have been discussed?

If you answer yes to these questions, then you should structure your paper as a refutation essay.

Step 3: Plan and write the paper

Then you need to organize your paper. Your paper needs to have an introduction and conclusion, and address the 3 prompts listed below.

Introduction: introduce your topic, and then end the paragraph with your thesis statement.

  • Your thesis statement will outline how you discuss the three topics listed below: the complexities of your chosen topic, why bias or offense needs to be avoided, and how biases in language can affect research.

Paragraph 1: Open by discussing the complexities of discussing this topic, such as the groups involved, or the complexities of intersectionality.

  • The opening paragraph should provide some background on your chosen topic. What this contains will depend on the kind of paper you are writing. In this opening paragraph you may also want to define intersectionality and explain why it is always important to keep this concept in mind.

Paragraph 2: Why you need to avoid bias or offense in your writing.

  • The second paragraph needs to address the need to avoid bias or offense in your writing. Give examples related to your chosen topic, and explain why it is so important to avoid bias or offense in scientific writing in particular.

Paragraph 3: How biases in language can affect research.

  • Conclude with an example of how bias could affect how bias in language use could affect a research study. Provide an example, and explain the ways that either the research design or how results are analyzed could be affected by the use of biased language.

Conclusion: A summary of what you have discussed.

  • A conclusion should contain no new information. All it needs to do is to summarize all you have discussed in the paper.


  • A correctly formatted APA title page.
  • 1-2 pages of text with correctly formatted in-text citations.
  • A references section with at least 2 references (one of these will be the APA manual. Do not use the autogenerate citation button from your eBook shelf for this reference).

Rubric (60 pts)

Context of and Purpose for Writing (20 pts)

  • Student demonstrates an understanding of context and purpose of the assignment.

Mastery of Content (20 pts)

  • Student demonstrates insight into how bias or offense can affect communication.

Genre and Disciplinary Conventions (20 pts)

  • Student correctly follows the rules of APA Style
    • Title page
    • Headings (if needed)
    • In-text citations
    • References

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