Why we “they” in academic writing: A discussion of pronouns

August 15, 2019

In response to a question on the use of pronouns in academic writing, Letitia Henville advises writers to just go with the singular use “they” instead of using an alternative agendered pronoun such as “one,” selecting a gendered pronoun at random, or using “s/he” or alternating pronouns. Henville states that alternating between examples can create confusion for the reader, while using “he or she” or “s/he” is not inclusive of people who may be genderqueer, aayahkwew, sipiniq, or onón:wat, among other identities. “When you submit to an academic journal, you have power over the text that is published under your name,” writes Henville. “Sure, you may need to conform to a particular citation format and house style […] but for language that has political implications, you can and should make a case for your preferred word or formatting.” University Affairs (International)