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APA Style Guide: Interviews

A guide to help with the APA Citation Style.

Research Interviews & Personal Communication

In-text Citations for Research Interviews in APA:


(E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).

A. P. Smith also claimed that many of her students had difficulties with APA style (personal communication, November 3, 2002).


Though most personal communications include the communicator’s first initial and surname, in the case of research interviewees, the participant's identity must remain anonymous for ethical reasons.  As a result, you should not include any identifying information.  Here are some ways to keep your participants anonymous:

  • Do not provide any identifying information:

Observations by one of the students interviewed draws more attention to the initial problem: [Insert quote without other attributions]

  • Identify the participant by age or some other type of data:

"The experience was different and exhausting (male participant, 43 years of age)."

"In retrospect, I would have spent more time with the research librarian (female psychology student)."

  • Use letters, nicknames, or roles to identify participants

Student A, Student B;   Participant A, Participant B

John, Mary

Doctor, Patient; Librarian, Patron; Teacher, Student

In-text Citations for Personal Communications in APA:

In text format:

According to S. Brown (personal communication, July 22, 2012), the statistics class is full.

The statistics class is full (S. Brown, personal communication, July 22, 2012).

If the personal communication is recoverable, then the source should be cited as an archived material.


Individual Email

Since emails are not recoverable, APA treats them like personal communications (see APA Style FAQ, "How Do You Cite E-Mail Communications from Individuals?").  These are not included in the reference list.

In text format:

An example given by M. Lankershim (personal communication, May 11, 2008)

There were 100 participants in the study (M. Lankershim, personal communication, May 11, 2008)


Facebook Page (private, friends-only) (see APA, section 6.10, p. 173)

If a Facebook page privacy settings have been set to "friends only" or "private," then communications can only be referenced in text as personal communications.  However, if the content is visible to everyone, then communications can be posted to the reference page.


Unretrievable Class Lecture

If a class lecture is unretrievable, it is considered unrecoverable data.  Only reference the source within the text, and not on the reference list.

In text format:

According to Professor L. Tucker (personal communication, May 17, 2009)

The post-war depression of the early 1900s was a hardship for all citizens, rich and poor (Professor L. Tucker, personal communication, May 17, 2009)


Personal Interviews

Because personal interviews are not considered recoverable data, these references should not be posted in the reference list.

In text format:

M. Hughes (personal communication, February 10, 2005) suggests that

Too many hot dogs are not good for your gut (M. Hughes, personal communication, Febrauary 10, 2005)

adapted from Alliant International University Library: APA (6th ed.), Citation Style: Citing Personal Communications.