According to the Chinese language wiki, the word 华夏 is just an Ancient word for 夏人, or the people of the Xia dynasty.
In Early Old Chinese, the Xia dynasty was the central power, but "夏人" was generally used to refer to the descendants of the Xia dynasty. "華夏" is simply a synonym that was used before the Han dynasty.
The text goes on to explain that in the early Qin dynasty it was used to also classify people in the Zhou dynasty. It looks like this is an example of using the word to affirm political legitimacy-- they used this terminology to affirm that anyone who followed Zhou Li of the Zhou dynasty was a descendant of the even older (and therefore more legitimate?) Xia dynasty by saying they were 華夏, but that people who did not follow Zhou Li were barbarians, even if they belonged to the Zhou family.
This article does note that some historians believe that in Early Old Chinese "Hua" and "Xia" were pronounced the same, and originally just one character. They also give an example in the Zuo Zhuan where the two are interchangeable.
Tl;DR If the paper you are using predates the Han dynasty, it's possible that it is saying this word with purpose, to intentionally claim a longer and more honorable lineage for the group of people it is referring to, but if it was written after the Han dynasty the word choice was probably just for style as at that point the word is interchangeable with 华人.