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What is the correct way to cite "private communications" and similar sources that seem not to belong into the .bib database.

I am using biber and biblatex with TL2012

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2  
You always have the standard unpublished entry type... –  Corentin Dec 16 '12 at 22:10
    
You suggest to insert it to the large .bib database? –  Jonas Stein Dec 16 '12 at 22:15
4  
If you don't insert it in a .bib database, you won't be able to cite it in the bibliography. You can also simply acknowledge the private communication in the text. –  egreg Dec 16 '12 at 22:58
4  
You can use misc and howpublished="private communication". Eventually, you can put them in different .bib` database, and then load different bib databased using multiple \addbibresource –  Guido Dec 16 '12 at 23:50
3  
In the end it depends on the citation style you are required to use. Most journal (and university) styles I know would simply ask you to provide it in the text as egreg suggested. This makes sense since there aren't many details to provide about a personal communication except the name and the communication type (i.e. no 'title', 'volume', 'publisher' etc). If you are required to include this in the bibliography list then what Guido suggested is a good solution. –  Roey Angel Dec 17 '12 at 7:16

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The entry type misc can be used for private communications, and using the field howpublished="private communication". Eventually, you can store them in a different bib database, and then load different bib databases with multiple \addbibresource commands.

However, as pointed out by Roey Angel and egreg most journal styles ask to put them in the text instead of citing them (and including them in the list of references/bibliography). In this case it is possible to define a filter (or technically a check) to remove the personal communication from the bibliography. Also it is possible to customise \autocite so that it behaves accordingly when using a personal communication instead of "regular" citation.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[style=authoryear,autocite=inline]{biblatex}
\usepackage{xstring}
\usepackage{filecontents}
\begin{filecontents}{\jobname.bib}
@misc{test1,
  author = "Author, John",
  date = "2013-02-03",
  howpublished = "personal communication"
}
@misc{test2,
  author = "Author, John",
  title = "Untitled Manuscript",
  date = "2012",
  howpublished = "unpublished"
  }
@article{test3,
  author = "Author, John",
  title = "article",
  journal = "Journal Name",
  year = "2011"}
\end{filecontents}
\addbibresource{\jobname.bib}

\defbibcheck{pc}{
  \ifboolexpr{
    test { \ifentrytype{misc} }
    and
    test{ \IfStrEq{\thefield{howpublished}}{personal communication}}
    }
    {\skipentry}
    {}
}

\DeclareAutoCiteCommand{inline}{\mycite}{\cites}
\DeclareCiteCommand{\mycite}
  {}
  {\ifentrytype{misc}{%
    \IfStrEq{\thefield{howpublished}}{personal communication}
      {\printnames{labelname} \mkbibparens{personal communication, \printdate}}
      {\mkbibparens{\usebibmacro{cite}}}%
      }
    {\mkbibparens{\usebibmacro{cite}}}%
  }
  {}
  {}

\begin{document}

\autocite{test1} explained why the result in \autocite{test3} is outdated and why one should use those in \autocite{test2}.

\printbibliography[check=pc]

\end{document}

With biber and a recent version of biblatex, an alternative would be to define a new entry type for personal communications.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[style=authoryear,autocite=inline]{biblatex}
\usepackage{filecontents}
\begin{filecontents}{\jobname.bib}
@personalcommunication{test1,
  author = "Author, John",
  date = "2013-02-03",
}
@misc{test2,
  author = "Author, John",
  title = "Untitled Manuscript",
  date = "2012",
  howpublished = "unpublished"
  }
@article{prova,
  author = "Author, John",
  title = "article",
  journal = "Journal Name",
  year = "2011"}
\end{filecontents}
\begin{filecontents}{biblatex-dm.cfg}
\DeclareDatamodelEntrytypes{personalcommunication}
\end{filecontents}
\addbibresource{\jobname.bib}

\DeclareAutoCiteCommand{inline}{\mycite}{\cites}
\DeclareCiteCommand{\mycite}
  {}
  {\ifentrytype{personalcommunication}
      {\printnames{labelname} \mkbibparens{personal communication, \printdate}}
      {\mkbibparens{\usebibmacro{cite}}}%
  }
  {}
  {}

\begin{document}

\autocite{test1} explained why the result in \autocite{prova} is outdated and why one should use those in \autocite{test2}.

\printbibliography[nottype=personalcommunication]

\end{document}

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