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APA 7th Referencing Guide

Acknowledging Traditional Knowledge

The following information has come from the APA manual (2019, pp.260-261).

Acknowledging Traditional Knowledge

Traditional Knowledge is referenced based on how the information was recorded.

  • If the information is in a recorded format, follow the examples for how to cite that particular source (e.g. journal article, book, website, etc.). See examples below about how to acknowledge the Indigenous community or Language group, when known, in your text.
  • If this information is in an unrecorded format, follow the examples for Personal Communication, with the addition of the Indigenous community or Language group if known. See examples below.
  • If the author, or person sharing the information is an Elder, they should be referred to as Aunty or Uncle in your narrative.

Stop and think

  • Is the information accurate and appropriate?
  • Is the information something you are allowed to share?
  • Is the Community or Language group acknowledged?
    • If so, you can also acknowledge them in your text.
    • If not, you can acknowledge in your text that this is Indigenous Knowledge with unknown origin.

Recorded sources

Recorded sources

If the information being referenced has been recorded, it should be referenced according to the APA style for that source (e.g. book, article).

However, you can choose to acknowledge the author as an elder, where applicable, and  Community or Language group (if known) further in your text.

Example 1
In-text citation (narrative)
Uncle Charles, Bundjalung, highlights the importance of stillness and listening to the lessons from Country (Moran & Moran, 2004. p. 56).
Reference list 
Moran, C.H. & Moran, G. 2004, Talk softly, listen well: Profile of a Bundjalung elder, Charles Moran, Southern Cross University Press.
Example 2 (published interview)

Follow the format for the reference type in which the interview was published. When the person being interviewed doesn't appear in the author element in the Reference, integrate their name, title if applicable, and Country or Language group into the narrative of the sentence..

In-text citation (narrative)
Aunty Bea Ballangarry, Gumbaynggirr, explains how the removal of judgement found in yarning circles provides opportunities for healing (NSW Mental Health Commission, 2016, January 20).
Reference list
NSW Mental Health Commission. (2016, Jan 20). Guunumba Sit Down Circles with Aunty Bea Ballangarry - Coffs Harbour, NSW [Video]. YouTube.

Non recorded sources

Not recorded sources (personal communication or interview)

If the information you are citing has not been recorded in a way that it can be recovered by a reader it should be cited as personal communication. This includes email, text message, online chat, direct message, personal interview, telephone conversation, live speech, unrecorded classroom lecture, memo, or letter, etc. 

  • Include the initial/s and surname of the communicator, and as exact a date as possible, in the citation
  • Include the language group, if known
  • Do not use for quotes, or information from participants interviewed as part of personal original research
  • Do not include in the References list
Personal communication example
In-text citation
(G. Hickling, Bundjalung, personal communication, August 6, 2020) OR Aunty Gwen Hickling (Bundjalung, personal communication, August 6, 2020)

Further reading

Further reading