APA STYLE and COMMON PROBLEMS
Tense. Use the past tense whenever possible. Previous studies were conducted. Your study has been conducted. The present tense is appropriate for “enduring truths”, e.g., “Practice improves performance.” and for events and objects that currently exist, e.g., “The data in Table 1 show that …. .”.
First-person pronouns and voice. Avoid the first-person pronouns (I and we). Current scientific writing style permits the limited use of first-person pronouns, primarily in the discussion section. You should refrain from using them, because you will find it difficult to limit them. Strive for the active voice, but use the passive voice instead of first-person pronouns, e.g., “The participants were told to … “ vs. “I told the participants to …”. Alternative phrasing can eliminate both problems, e.g., “The instructions given to the participants emphasized the importance of …”.
Sexist-writing. Avoid writing that implies that ‘he’ is a generic pronoun, that ‘man’ is a generic referent to people, and that boys and men are inherently superior to girls and women. You may use the awkward ‘he or she’ when you need to refer to people individually, but strive for the plural ‘they’. However, do not combine a singular noun with a plural pronoun, e.g., avoid: “After the participant was seated, they were told …”.
Numbers. Use words for the numbers below 10 and figures for numbers above 10. However, use figures for data and use figures when combining numbers below 10 with numbers above 10. But do not begin a sentence with a figure, and if you begin a sentence with a number word above 10, you should use figures for additional number words above 10 in that clause.
Beware. Data is a plural noun. “The data were analyzed.” Affect is usually a verb and effect is usually a noun. Abbreviations.