How to Cite Interviews
Interviews are a useful means of obtaining information from individuals
who have been directly involved with the topic or period one is
researching. Such individuals are "primary
sources" who can provide data or perspectives which may not be
available from other sources. Individual interviews are normally used to
establish or support particular points in a paper; a series of structured
interviews may also comprise an entire 'original research component' of a
paper if they form a coherent body of new information on the research
According to Sari Virtanen, a meteorologist with the Finnish National
Weather Bureau who has conducted an extensive study on historical
precipitation patterns in the Nordic region, there has been far less
snowfall in the first decade of the 21st century than in any other decade
of the previous two centuries (Telephone). In response to questions on
this observation, Virtanen said that global warming was a possible factor
(E-mail). In a press briefing the following day, the melting of the
arctic ice caps was cited as one manifestation of this warming
(Videoconference). When UTA radio correspondent Bill Smith then
interviewed her for a TranslaNet broadcast, Virtanen noted that the loss
of the arctic ice caps may lead to the extinction of polar bears (Radio).
When this author followed up personally on the subject, Virtanen first
observed that there was "no time to lose" to avert an eco-catastrophe
(Personal 05 December), but then subsequently put this more strongly by
saying "we must do something Now! (Personal 06 November).
Note in the Works Cited listing and the in-text citations above, two of
the interviews are listed as "Personal interviews" to distinguish them
from the Telephone, E-mail, Videoconference and Radio interviews. As
there were two "Personal interviews", the dates of each must also be used
in the in-text citations to distinguish what was said in each instance.
However, if there had been only one "Personal" interview, then
(Virtanen, Personal) would be the way to cite it.
Basic Types of Interviews for Citation Purposes
For citation purposes, there are at least seven types of interviews:
- [Personal] interviews conducted by the author of the paper,
may or may not have been recorded on audio or videotape or some other
medium, so that there would be a version to which others could refer.
Unless mentioned otherwise in the Works Cited entry, the assumption is
that all interviews will have been conducted 'personally' (meaning
"face-to-face" in the same physical location) by the paper's author. Thus
such interviews would normally be listed in your works cited only
as "Interview," not as "Personal interview." [Thus
in-text citation references would be to (Smith, Interview) rather
than (Smith, Personal)]
- Telephone or Video interviews conducted by the author
the paper (via a telephone call, a videoconferencing link, a web camera,
etc.). Common to all of these is that the interviewer and interviewee are
not physically present with each other, even if they can hear (or if via
video, also see) each other. The type (telephone, webcam, etc.) of
interview must be mentioned, as well as whether a recording was made.
A "Video interview" may also refer to a group videocast which was not
arranged by the author of the paper, but in which he/she participated, and
was able to ask individual questions and receive answers to these.
- Interviews which have been broadcast "live" on radio or
television, or webcast, etc., where the researcher was only a spectator to
the broadcast (e.g. could not participate interactively). [See both the
last part of #2 above plus Citing TV and Radio
Programs.] Such interviews assume that there has been no publication
of the transcript.
- Interviews which have been published on audiotape,
videotape, DVD, etc. (but without a printed transcript). Such interviews
are publicly available in a standard, registered version [see also Citing DVD Special Features].
- Interviews which have been published in a book or magazine
(in an anthology of interviews or a magazine article, for example). In
such cases the citation would normally be to the author or editor of the
book or (who may or may not be the 'interviewer'), or the author of the
magazine article. Such citations differ from examples 1-4 in that they
would not key on the 'interviewee' but rather the author or editor of the
print publication, following standard print-citation procedure. In such
cases the interviewee could be referred to with the 'B' in 'A' procedure.
- E-mail 'interviews'. These might be cited as 'interviews',
but should usually be cited as e-mail messages from the 'interviewee' (see
the 'How to Cite E-mail' link above). Remember that "interview" normally
means a face-to-face encounter between the interviewer and interviewee.
E-mail "interviews" are a kind of correspondence, where each side normally
has time to reflect and compose/recompose one's responses; as such they
differ from the more spontaneous nature of face-to-face interviews. With
e-mail, one also cannot "read" facial expressions or body language that
may influence meanings in a face-to-face interview. Further, with e-mail
there will be a digital text of the "interview" which could be
incorporated directly into the paper, either as extracts in the paper text
or as a whole in an Appendix.
- Instant Message or Chat 'interviews'. Even if not conducted
face-to-face, the continuous back-and-forth question-and-response format
of 'interviews' conducted by instant message or chat technologies makes
them more similar to a 'live' personal interview than to an e-mail
interview, even if both of these electronic forms would be conducted via
writing and would produce a savable digital text. Therefore continuous,
structured 'interviews' (as opposed to a single, unsolicited comment,
for example) conducted by instant message and chat technologies would
usually be cited as an "interview" rather than as an "e-mail message."
How to Cite a Simple 'Personal' Interview
Works Cited entries for interview citations normally begin with the name
of the person who was interviewed. If the interview was conducted by the
author of the paper, the "title" would simply be "Interview"
unless the same person had been interviewed several times
via different 'techniques' for the same paper, in which case the
longer title "Personal interview" would be used to distinguish more
clearly between the different interviews. [When using this longer form,
"Personal" is capitalized, but "interview" isn't.] The interviewer's name
need not be mentioned with either the "Interview" or "Personal interview"
form, as the presumption for both of these cases is that it was the author
who conducted the interview.
Thus the basic form for a 'personal' interview would be:
- Smith, John. Interview. 04 March 2010.
The use of either "Interview" or "Personal interview" also implies that
the only "record" of the face-to-face interview is handwritten notes made
by the interviewer, e.g. the interview was not recorded on audio or
videotape or otherwise. Without a recording which can be inspected later,
an interview may be considered less reliable than if it had been recorded.
If a recording was made of the interview (either a personal,
'unpublished' recording or a public recording, such as an archived
webcast, etc.), this should be noted to indicate that there is a
referrable source for the content, even if that source is not publicly
available. The author is thus showing that if any dispute should arise on
whether the interviewee actually said something, or said it in a certain
way, there is a recording which could be consulted for verification,
rather than only having one's notes as the 'evidence'. See below for
If the interview was conducted via telephone, teleconferencing, a
webcast, instant message, etc. (whether or not it was recorded in some
verifiable format), then the medium should be listed, for example as
"Telephone interview." See below for examples.
Identifying Interviewees in the Paper and in the Works Cited
As most interviewees are not "known public figures" (even if they may be
authorities on the topic in question), it is essential to "identify" in
both the text of the paper and in the Works Cited entry who they are and
in what capacity they are qualified to comment on the research topic. It
is not enough that you know who they are (which is why you had interviewed
them). This information also needs to be explicit to readers of your
paper. The identification need not be extensive, but it must be present.
This "identification" provides background on the interviewee similar to
what would have been available if you had cited a book source, where
knowledge of the author of a book would normally be "known" from the book
itself, from other books the author has published, and so on. It helps
the reader of your paper evaluate the credibility of your source. A
similar example of the need to "identify" the person behind a source is
with the citation of
For example, if one were researching average snowfall records in the
Tampere region in the past two centuries, and had interviewed a
meteorologist named Sari Virtanen to obtain statistical data, it would not
be enough to just say "According to Sari Virtanen there has been far less
snowfall in the first decade of the 21st century than in any other decade
of the previous two centuries (Interview)." You would know who
Sari Virtanen was and what authority she had to comment on snowfall
patterns, but the readers of your paper would not know this.
Instead one would need to "identify" who Sari Virtanen is and in what
capacity she is speaking, with the assumption that her identity would not
be common knowledge for readers of your paper. A better example of the
above text would be "According to Sari Virtanen, a meteorologist with
the Finnish National Weather Bureau who has conducted an extensive study
on historical precipitation patterns in the Nordic region, there has
been far less snowfall in the first decade of the 21st century than in any
other decade of the previous two centuries (Interview)."
The Works Cited entry should have a corresponding description, though
it need not be as long as the description in the text of the paper. For
example, rather than just:
the Works Cited entry for the above example might instead be:
- Virtanen, Sari. Interview. 05 December 2009.
- Virtanen, Sari. [Meteorologist at the Finnish National Weather Bureau.]
Interview. 05 December 2009.
Note above the use of brackets [*] for Sari Virtanen's 'identity',
as it is supplementary documentation added at the discretion of the author
E-mail for more detail on this).
On the other hand, if the interviewee is a "known public figure" (such
as with the example of Juice Leskinen for a Finnish readership later in
this file) you would only need to clarify in the text of the paper the
relevance of the interview to the topic of the paper.
Interviewees Must Be Cited By an Identifiable 'Name'
A related point in the identification of interviewees is that in academic
research interviewees must be identified by an 'identifiable name'
usually their real name, but also including 'artistic names' by which some
individuals may be better known (see more on this below). So-called 'anonymous' interviews, or
references to "an informed source" such as often encountered in
journalism, are not acceptable in academic writing.
The point behind the need to identify interviewees is that all
information used to support an academic argument must be available for
examination by the scholarly public. This includes the identities of
interviewees. Thus "anonymity" is in principle not acceptable for academic
papers, as it runs directly counter to the principle which is at the heart
of academic research that all sources (including interviewees) be freely
and openly available for examination by the scholarly public.
Citing Different Interviews For the Same Person:
As noted above, a single, unrecorded, face-to-face 'personal' interview
with a person by the author of the paper would be titled just as an
"Interview." However, if there had been several different types of
interviews with the same person listed in the same Works Cited, then the
form "Personal interview" would be used to distinguish the different types
of interviews for that person. Such a Works Cited listing might be:
Works Cited Listings and In-Text References
The in-text citations for the above series would then use the first
'keyword' of the respective Works Cited listing, as follows:
- Virtanen, Sari. Telephone interview. 01 December 2009.
- - - - . E-Mail interview. 02 December 2009.
- - - - . Videoconference interview. 03 December 2009.
- - - - . Radio interview With Bill Smith. Broadcast on UTA TranslaNet,
04 December 2009.
- - - - . Personal interview. 05 December 2009.
- - - - . Personal interview. 06 December 2009.
Since the text referred directly to Sari Virtanen in most of the
examples, a reference to the 'title' keyword would usually suffice; e.g.
one would know to look under 'Virtanen' for the 'Radio' keyword. However,
if you as the author feel that the reference is not sufficiently clear,
you could also refer explicitly to (Virtanen, Radio) and (Virtanen,
E-mail), etc. Likewise, if you felt the year was also significant with
the two "Personal interviews" (even if they had been done on successive
days in the same year), then this could be added as (Personal 05 December
Interview Citations For 'Known, Public Figures'
Rollowing are examples of interview citations for a "known, public figure"
who has also been "defined" in the text of the paper at the first instance
of his [or her] citation:
If Juice Leskinen were NOT a "known, public figure," then in addition to a
more detailed "definition" of his identity in the text of the paper,
additional detail similar to the following should also be added to the
Works Cited entry:
- Leskinen, Juice. Interview. 15 October 2003. (
- Leskinen, Juice. Telephone interview. 16 October 2003. (
- Leskinen, Juice. Telephone interview (recorded on audiotape). 17
- Leskinen, Juice. [(1950-2006) Former translation student at the
Tampereen Kieli-instituutti, legendary Finnish popular music
performer, newspaper columnist, and poet.] Interview. 15
Note above the use of brackets [*] for the 'definition' of Juice's
'identity', as it is supplementary documentation added at the discretion
of the author. The birth and death dates are, conversely, in parentheses
(*) as supplementary data inside the bracketed material.
Citing By an 'Artistic Name' Rather Than a Given Name
In the examples above, 'Juice' was not the 'given' name of Pauli Matti
Juhani Leskinen, born on the 19th of February 1950 in Juankoski. However,
as his artistic career evolved, it became the name by which he was
commonly known. Thus if in an interview (or other source) he had been
referred to as 'Juice' Leskinen (rather than as 'Juhani' Leskinen, the
portion of his given name by which he had been previously known), one
would refer to him in a Works Cited by the name that had been used in the
source itself in this case, 'Juice' rather than his given name.
Since 'Juice' used his given family name (Leskinen), there was never
any question about his identity. However, even in a case such as the pop
where no portion of her given name is evident in her artistic name,
citations and Works Cited listings would be to 'Heinäsirkka' if that
was the name by which she had been identified in the source(s) being used.
If you feel as the author of the paper that her real name of 'Anne
Taskinen' should also be given (for example if you had several sources
relating to her, some of which referred to her only as 'Heinäsirkka'
while one or two others referred to 'Anne Taskinen' or else you
simply wanted to clarify who 'Heinäsirkka' is) an author note could
be used to explain the connection (or distinction), or why one name had
been used when listing some sources while another name was used for other
Whether by using a given name, which is normally the case, or an
artistic name, as in the examples above, the identity of the source for
academic research purposes would be clear in either case.
Citations for Published and Broadcast Interviews
"Broadcast" and "Published" interviews would include the title of the
interview (if there was one), the name(s) of the interviewer(s), if known,
and the title of the publication (if available) in which the interview
appeared. If the interview is untitled, cite it as an "Interview", adding
the name(s) of the interviewer(s) if known.
Examples of broadcast and published (newspaper, DVD, anthology)
citations would be [see the Citations Index
for additional details on many of these examples]:
However, note that interviews which have been published in books or
magazines may also be standard 'print-citations', as described in #4
above. Thus the previous citation could also be:
- Untitled interview broadcast on TV-1 in Finland
- Leskinen, Juice. Interview with Marja Marjanen and Pekka Pekkanen.
Iltavuoro. YLE1, Helsinki. 15 October 2003.
- Untitled DVD "extra feature" interview, giving the film name and
- Leskinen, Juice. Interview. As Good as It Got. Dir. Antti
Anttonen. DVD. FinnFilm Features, 2003.
- Untitled interview published in Aviisi, interviewer not
- Leskinen, Juice. Interview. Aviisi, 15 October 2003. 11.
- Untitled interview published in an anthology, interviewer not
- Leskinen, Juice. Interview. Interviewing Former Translation
Students. By Marja Marjanen and Maija Maijanen. Tampere: Utopia
Press, 2002. 77-97.
- Titled interview with interviewer's name, published in an edited,
- Leskinen, Juice. Lost in Translation. Interview with Marja
Marjanen. Interviewing Former Translation Students. Ed. Marja
Marjanen. Trans. Pekka Pekkanen. Tampere: Utopia Press, 2003. 55-75.
The difference depends on (a) which person should receive more
emphasis in your citation, and/or (b) whether there are other Works Cited
entries to the same person, and there is thus a need in the Works Cited
listing to keep all "related" entries together under the same name.
- Marjanen, Marja, ed. Lost in Translation. Interview with Juice
Leskinen. Interviewing Former Translation Students. Trans. Pekka
Pekkanen. Tampere: Utopia Press, 2003. 55-75.
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Last Updated 22 January 2012