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Reporting Race: Use of Inclusive Language in Disparities Research

, by DCEG Staff

The language we choose is powerful and conveys implicit meaning, values and perspectives. It shapes how we share our identities with others and how we view others. When discussing race and ethnicity in scientific reporting, terminology and word choice are critically important. 

“Inclusive language supports diversity and conveys respect”.1 Non-inclusive language can convey bias, prejudice, and stereotypes, or even bigotry and racism. In February 2020, the American Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style2 updated their recommendations on reporting of race and ethnicity to promote more inclusive language. In addition, the AMA Manual of Style also provides guidance on appropriate and inclusive language when describing and reporting on sex and gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and persons with diseases, disorders, or disabilities. These recent steps are critical for establishing an anti-racist and inclusive research environment and workspace.

Examples of New AMA Manual of Style
Language to avoid Instead consider
“Minority” – This is an over-generalized and vague term Replace with more specific language including:
  • Racial and ethnic minority/minoritized groups
  • Underserved populations
  • Underrepresented populations
  • Marginalized groups
  • Historically understudied populations
  • Historically excluded groups
  • Systematically excluded groups
“Other” – This term refers to a nonspecific group label often used in scientific literature to describe subgroups that are too small for meaningful analyses. The categories included in this group should be defined and reported, especially when reporting on racial and ethnic categories.
Use of racial groups as nouns – Racial and ethnic terms should not be used in noun form (e.g., avoid “Asians,” “Blacks,” “Hispanics,” or “Whites”) The adjectival form is preferred (e.g., instead Asian individuals, Black patients, Hispanic children, or White participants).

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