- Principles of Citing Sources
- Citing Books
- Citing Articles
- Citing Internet Sources
- Citing Miscellaneous Sources
- Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism
Wallack, Nicole. Advisory Board Meeting. Institute for Writing and Thinking.
[speaker.] [format.] [sponsoring event.]
New York City. 7 June 2006.
Identify as conversation in your paper. Do not list in your References.
34. Nicole Wallack, Advisory Board Meeting, Institute for Writing and Thinking,
[fn. #.] [author full name, discussion format,] [sponsoring context if any,]
New York City, June 7, 2006.
[Note: Chicago style footnotes give full information for unpublished discussions, but does not list them in the Bibliography.]
It’s probably obvious that the authority of material that comes in private conversations varies greatly with the status of the source. What someone says may be useful as a source of opinion, but can seldom be relied on as definitive information, unless you’re speaking with a recognized expert. And even in these cases, the informality of conversation makes most people much less careful about checking facts and conclusions, rendering the information less authoritative. Most discussions should probably be treated as popular rather than scholarly sources. See Scholarly vs. Popular Sources for more information.
But some discussions will be relevant to ideas you’re developing (especially class discussions), and some of the people you talk to will have useful knowledge of the topics at hand. In addition, even talking about your own ideas can be an invaluable way to develop them further, and this benefit is not restricted to conversations with experts. If you talk with friends or classmates, you may gain new insights for your writing, and you may wish to acknowledge other speaker’s contributions to your work. Doing so is not simply a matter of giving credit where it’s due, but can also serve to add texture to your ideas by articulating alternate positions—exploring such alternatives, briefly, can enhance the impact of your primary argument. The following other sections of this guide may be helpful in thinking about how to employ ideas that arise in conversation: Why Cite?, Scholarly vs. Popular Sources, and Sources that Other People Suggested.
If you quote or paraphrase what someone said during a meeting, class discussion, or private conversation, list the citation by the speaker’s name. Follow that with a short description of the discussion format (such as “Private conversation”). If the conversation is part of some organized event—like a class meeting—include that information.
In APA style, you do not include in your list of References any source that can’t be retrieved by your reader. If you use material from a discussion in your paper, cite it as a personal communication in your text, and do not list it at the end.
Note: As discussed in the section on How To Quote, it’s often useful to identify your source in the body of your paper (and not just in your citation or footnote); this identification is especially important when you use discussions. If you give a sense of what kind of source you’re using, the reader will be better able to understand the context of your evidence. The discussion of Special Demands of Internet Sources examines the importance of contextualizing your sources.
Note, also: Most people consider conversations to be private. Even if the discussion involves more than one person, a decent respect for privacy suggests that you secure the speaker’s permission before making the material public. The discussion of Special Demands of Internet Sources examines the importance of respecting a source’s privacy.