How to Cite a Primary Source in APA Format

Updated November 21, 2016

Primary research is information that is collected firsthand, and it includes surveys and interviews. Primary research is different from secondhand research, which is information that can be found in books or databases. Primary information does not come from previously published sources, so the American Psychological Association, or APA, does not require it to be documented in the works cited list. However, it needs to appear in an in-text citation.

Citing an Interview

When citing an interview, do not include personal communication in your list of references. Include the name of the person you communicated with, the phrase “personal communication” and the date the communication occurred in your main text. For example,

(J. Smith, personal communication, March 3, 2015)

J. Smith noted that many of her fourth-grade students were experiencing significant difficulties learning how to tell time (personal communication, March 3, 2015).

Citing a Survey

If you conducted a survey, do not include it in your works cited list. The Purdue Owl Online Writing Lab recommends describing the survey in your paper. Include a brief overview that explains how you administered the survey, what types of questions you asked, who responded to the survey and how many responses you received. Include a copy of the survey questions as an appendix to your paper.

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