Because quotations from research participants are part of your original research, do not include a reference list entry for them in the reference list and do not treat them as personal communications.

  • For the formatting, follow the same guidelines as for other quotations:
    • Present a quotation of fewer than 40 words in quotation marks within the text.
    • Present a quotation of 40 words or more in a block quotation indented below the text.
  • State in the text that the quotations are from participants, as in this example:

In focus group discussions, participants described their postretirement experiences, including the emotions associated with leaving work and its affective and practical implications. “Rafael” (64 years old, retired pilot) mentioned several difficulties associated with retirement, including feeling like he was “in a void without purpose . . . it took several months to develop new interests that motivated [him] each day.” Several other participants agreed, describing the entrance into retirement as “confusing,” “lonely,” “purposeless,” and “boring.” In contrast, others described the sense of “balance” and “relaxation” retirement brought to their lives.

Ethical considerations when quoting participants

When quoting research participants, abide by any ethical agreements regarding confidentiality and/or anonymity agreed to between you and your participants during the consent or assent process. Take care to obtain and respect participants’ consent to have their information included in your report. To disguise participant information, you may need to

  • assign pseudonyms to participants,
  • obscure identifying information, and/or
  • present aggregate information.

Agreements regarding confidentiality and/or anonymity may also extend to other sources related to your methodology (e.g., quoting a school policy document when conducting a case study at a school). In that case, you might need to employ similar strategies (e.g., rather than referring to a school by name, refer to “an elementary school in Atlanta, Georgia”).

For detailed discussion of ethical considerations for sharing data and protecting confidentiality in your research, see Sections 1.14, 1.15, and 1.19 of the Publication Manual.

Quotations from research participants are covered in Section 8.36 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition