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CDU APA Referencing: Personal communication & Traditional Knowledges

A guide to help you better understand CDU APA 7th Referencing

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Citation Elements

General personal communication

(Communicator, personal communication, Month date, year).

Traditional Knowledge communication

Communicator (nation/specific Indigenous group, location if known, personal communication, Month date, year).



  • Be mindful that Indigenous Cultural Heritage belongs to Indigenous Peoples in perpetuity and use of the information must reflect authorship and copyright considerations.



When do I use this type of citation?

‘Personal communications’ are resources that are accessible to you, but not your reader. These can include conversations, emails, class notes and other forms of communication that cannot be recovered by your reader. For this reason, you only cite in-text, without a reference list entry.

For Traditional Knowledge and Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples:

If you speak with an Indigenous person directly, follow the ‘Traditional Knowledge communication’ in-text citation example. No reference entry is included. If Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples can be recovered by the reader (e.g., video, audio, interview transcript, book, article), cite it in-text and include a reference list entry in the correct format for the type of source.

If you are an Indigenous person sharing your own experiences or previously unrecorded Traditional Knowledge or Oral Tradition describe yourself in the text (e.g., what nation you belong to, where you live) to contextualise the information you are sharing. Do not use a personal knowledge citation or provide a reference list entry.



Reference Examples


In-text citation: … guidelines were provided in a conversation with Director of Nursing (R. Smith, personal communication, October 18, 2019).

No reference list entry


In-text citation: We spoke with Tracy Woodroffe (Warumungu Luritja, lives in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, personal communication, April 4, 2019) about …

No reference list entry

Charles Darwin University acknowledges the traditional custodians across the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders both past and present.
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