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Lund University

Writing and sources

A guide on writing and the use of sources intended for students at the department of Biologi and CEC.

Personal communication

Personal communication is direct communication between two or more individuals, for example in the form of a personal interview, an email or a phone call. Before quoting someone from a personal communication, you need permission from the person in question. The permission should be in writing and a copy should be kept for reference. 

Personal communication is usually not recommended as a source, as the information is not retrievable by others and there is no quality control. Before citing a personal communication, ask yourself if what you want to cite has scholarly relevance and whether the information is not available in a primary source in a retrievable format. 

It is important to remember that even if the person communicating happen to be a researcher or a research institution, this does not make the information itself scientific. Since there is no formal quality control on the information given in a personal communication, you will need to determine for yourself if it is credible and relevant. You can find advice on what to consider when evaluating a source in the section Evaluating informal sources