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APA – Citing Sources

Personal communications

According to APA, all sources referred to in the text should be retrievable for the reader. But when it comes to what in this context is called "personal communication", such as interviewees or other respondents, anonymity and confidentiality of these persons are prioritized over stating their real names.

Personal communication usually consists of informal sources, such as e-mails, interviews, telephone calls, lectures, lecture notes, and the like. These should therefore not be included as references in the reference list although they are mentioned in the text. 

Examples of in-text citations in text:

  • (B. Smith, personal communication, July 15, 2007)
  • B. Smith (personal communication, July 15, 2007), one of the social workers at the Red Cross, helped victims during the . . . 
NB! You only have to cite according to the examples above if the person has given their permission to be named in your work! If no permission is given you use either fictitious or descriptive names or titles in the running text and omit citations like the ones above.

Examples of how to write about confidential sources in the text:

  • One respondent said that she had never experienced anything like it.
  • One of the social workers said that there had been some pressure from local authorities.
  • One of the Swedes in place at the disaster area said that . . .
  • PJ, a French middle manager at company X, stated that . . . 
  • Respondent C, on the other hand, was not aware of the fact that . . .
  • Several of the interviewed social workers said that . . .

If you use fictitious names, they are placed within quotation marks:

  • "Maria", a 45-year-old social worker at the Red Cross was there when the earthquake occurred.


Read more about his on APA Style: Let's Talk About Research Participants