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Context: At UK universities at least, before progressing from the first year of your PhD (or transferring from an MPhil to a PhD), it is required to write a fairly substantial report detailing the research done so far and the outline the research direction over the remainder of the PhD. It's usually known as the Transfer/Confirmation/Upgrade Report.

Is it appropriate to reference these kinds of reports when writing: a) Your own Transfer Report, and b) Published research articles? I have never come across one referenced in a paper before, whereas I have seen references to PhD theses, Masters, and undergraduate dissertations.

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If it is published somewhere, then you should feel free to cite it. However, if it's not, then you have a challenge. You might cite it as, more or less, "Author. Title. Transfer Report, University, Year. (unpublished personal communication)" Which indicates that you friend or colleague gave you a copy in which you first found the information you are referencing.

I think such an approach gives your colleague credit and gives readers at least some hope of being able to track down a copy if they want to verify your claims about what it says.

  • I would like to just add to this answer having since discovered a bit more about these reports (at least in the UK context), it seems they are effectively internal documents and so the 'unpublished personal communication' is probably the best description above. (They wouldn't be found in a University Library like a Thesis might be.) – decvalts Jul 13 '15 at 17:15

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