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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.

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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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