Quotes are essential in any thesis and often new for students. Usually the maintainer says a style and you then start to inquire slowly about it. The most common citation styles I often see: APA and Havard.

Details of the individual citation styles

In this paragraph, I would like to show exactly how a quote is made in the APA style. First, note the source in the bibliography. An example is:

Lindner, D (2019). SMEs in digital transformation. Heidelberg: Springer Gabler.

Tip: Use a source management program. I use Mendeley. These are free and help for work. Once you have inserted this, you can quote the source in two ways:

  • Indirect: According to Lindner (2019) is …. Agility is important (Lindner 2019)
  • Directly: “It is important that we are agile” (Lindner 2019, p. 5)

For the other citation styles, Scribbr has already summarized an overview very well.

Special cases when quoting

Now there are some special cases that often present students with major challenges. These are:

  • Website quote
  • Quote articles without author or year

To quote a website is very simple. Simply take the URL and search for an author like in this article: Dominic Lindner or take Agile Company. Then you need a retrieval date.

Ifm. (2017). Definitions of SMEs and SMEs. Retrieved from https://www.ifm-bonn.org/definitionen/ viewed at 05.05.2020.

Now some white papers are without year. This is also quite easy to use: Lindner (o. J.) – that means without a year. The only important thing is that you can assign the sources in the text. Even without an author, you can quote as follows: o.A. (2015). However, I think you should always find an author in the paper. If necessary, it is a company like Capgemini or take the middle part of the URL e.g.: Agile company. This shouldn’t actually happen unless you find a source in a bottle mail that has been washed up with you.

Try to use sources without year and author very rarely and only if it is not possible otherwise.

Correct description of sources and non-academic sources

No matter which of the four types of citation you choose: you have to present the selected literature, i.e. write it down.

You now use sources to create text. Once you run a source, you should also describe it well. Answer the following questions:

  • Is it a study or a practical article?
  • What was the author’s goal/context?
  • How did the author do research?
  • What are the most important results in the sense of my research question?

Reading tip: Literature analysis

To make this more clear to you, I’ll show a small example from two sources on the topic of “Efficiency of agile teams”. The first is a source of practice and the other is an academic source.

In a textbook, Gloger (2012) explains that teams can achieve greater efficiency through the Scum methodology, and especially such methodologies for introducing agility for many teams are a useful solution. The author uses only his own experiences and individual cases from his professional environment to argue, however, gives exciting impulses. The study by Lindner et al provides a further perspective. (2018). In a group discussion with 6 SME decision-makers from Germany, the authors conclude that complex projects such as process digitization require greater autonomy in the execution of work and exploratory approach, which is given by agile methods and leads to higher successes.

You notice that I have always mentioned the authors as well as the research goal. I then presented the methodology (e.g. interviews with 300 agile teams from SMEs in Ireland) and the main results for the research question. In doing so, you package source to source according to this scheme. You also notice that I have limited the practical – non-academic – textbook. I have shown. that it is a textbook and that the findings are not based on academic methods but on one’s own experience.

Reading tip: Can I only use academic literature?


You realize that citing is not difficult and you have to follow the rules that have been formulated. You should simply read them and work something in. To do this, you use a literature management program and it will be easier. Note a few special cases and write the literature wisely.


Gloger, B. (2013). Scrum. Munich: Hanser Verlag.

Lindner, D., Ludwig, T., & Amberg, M. (2018). Work 4.0 – Concepts for a new way of working in SMEs. HMD Practice of Business Informatics, 6(1), 17.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/b%C3%BCcher-question mark-student-4136388/

Gibt es noch Fragen?

Falls es noch Fragen gibt, habe ich zwei Tipps. Ich habe meine Erfahrung aus 5 Jahren in der Betreuung von Abschlussarbeiten im Buch: "Empfehlungen für die Bachelor- und Masterarbeit" zusammengefasst. Dieses gibt es bei Springer und Amazon seit August 2020. Das Buch ist ein offzielles Fachbuch in kann damit zitiert werden. Weiterhin können Sie mich gerne mal anrufen. Hierzu einfach im Buchungssystem nach einen freien Termin schauen. Ich nehme mir jeden Monat einige Stunden Zeit um Studenten zu helfen.

Mein Tipp vor der Abgabe Ihrer Abschlussarbeit

Es lohnt sich immer eine Abschlussarbeit professionell Korrekturlesen oder auf Plagiat prüfen zu lassen. Der Vorteil ist, dass Sie dabei auch Feedback erhalten und den akademischen Sprachstil verbessern. Anbieter wie bspw. Scribbr helfen mit guten Preisen bei der Abschlussarbeit.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.


I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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