Use first-person pronouns in APA Style to describe your work as well as your personal reactions.
- If you are writing a paper by yourself, use the pronoun “I” to refer to yourself.
- If you are writing a paper with coauthors, use the pronoun “we” to refer yourself and your coauthors together.
Referring to yourself in the third person
Do not use the third person to refer to yourself. Writers are often tempted to do this as a way to sound more formal or scholarly; however, it can create ambiguity for readers about whether you or someone else performed an action.
Correct: I explored treatments for social anxiety.
Incorrect: The author explored treatments for social anxiety.
Also avoid the editorial “we” to refer to people in general.
Incorrect: We often worry about what other people think of us.
Instead, specify the meaning of “we”—do you mean other people in general, other people of your age, other students, other psychologists, other nurses, or some other group? The previous sentence can be clarified as follows:
Correct: As young adults, we often worry about what other people think of us. I explored my own experience of social anxiety...
When you use the first person to describe your own actions, readers clearly understand when you are writing about your own work and reactions versus those of other researchers.
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