The participants' codes are referred to by placing a randomly generated 4 digit number after the initial of their last names e.g. J3926 for last name John.

I am not sure how does "be referred to by" works. This is a sentence I wrote based on the structure of a sentence I am trying to understand. And I wonder the sentence I wrote above makes sense.

(Please understand: I am not in liberty to write the exact sentence online; Basically I only changed the subject and object, the structure hasn't been changed.)

Thank you.


This is not quite correct, as your sentence is describing how the codes are generated, rather than how they are "referred to". A better way to use the phrase would be:

The participants are referred to by codes consisting of a randomly generated 4-digit number placed after the first letter of their last names.

"X is referred to by Y" means that Y is a method of addressing or identifying X. A code is not identified by its own structure, but the code is itself a way of identifying the participants.

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