Guard against the perception of bias or prejudice

Any verbal or visual reference that presents racial or ethnic groups as unequal or excludes one group in favor of another implies prejudice. Most of us are probably most sensitized to racism and sexism. However, many other -isms have been defined by groups and committees that are working to reduce perceived bias in language. Extensive discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this book; for helpful overviews and inroads to the literature, consult the Internet and see works by groups such as the American Psychological Association (Publication Manual, 2001).

Although racist language in scientific documents is rare, visual aids often do not show the same sensitivity. Sexism includes any verbal or visual reference that presents men and women as unequal or excludes one group in favor of another; it can take many forms, some of them subtle.

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