Error in APA style when citing an email.

APA style produces incorrect citations for email items.

When I cite an email item, the in text citation is currently

(Goodhue, 2012).

And the entry in the list of references is

Goodhue, D. L. (2012, April 10). RE: Your email.

The correct in-text citation would be

(D. L. Goodhue, personal communication, April 10, 2012).

and the should not be an entry in the list of references
  • My approach has been to not code things into styles that are not supposed to be in the reference list - i.e. I'd recommend to just write this in manually. I've never seen any citation style that requires personal communication with the author to be included in the reference list, so this doesn't create any issues when changing styles.

    In this particular case, it's also not possible to do right in the first place:
    1. e-mail is mapped to the same CSL type as letters and since we'd want letters (e.g. historic letters) to be cited in the reference list and wouldn't want them labeled as "personal communication" there really isn't anything we can do.
    2. The reason for the APA rule is that e-mails are not recoverable: but if you're e.g. citing White House e-mails that are made public, they are recoverable and should be cited normally.
  • Yes, this is probably not worth fixing.

    What my thought here was that an email is cited like any other source, and the in-text citation does depend on the style that is used. So it would make sense for the citation to change. Also, it seems that by allowing users to create email items in their database, Zotero will encourage people to cite these incorrectly. (That at least happened to me in this case.)

    So would it make sense to drop email from the item types in Zotero because using this item type will result in incorrect citations? (I do not have any strong feelings about this.)
  • I don't think we can easily remove item types - people would get rather upset (rightly so) if we mess with their data, which that would necessarily entail.

    Personally I think e-mail shouldn't exist and if you have a citable e-mail - such as my White House example - it should be entered as a letter (with "e-mail" in the type field), but I fear it's too late for that.
Sign In or Register to comment.