With the start of the bachelor’s or fattening thesis, the search for sources and literature starts. You are usually asked by the supervisor to use academic sources and quote them correctly. But what are academic sources and can I not take sources from practice and, if so, how do I quote them correctly? I am writing the article because I noticed in the last hours of the consultation that a large number of students think that practice sources should not be used. I would like to clarify that.

What are academic sources?

The supervisor will have told you to use academic literature. But what is academic? The VHB-JOURQUAL3 is a ranking of business-relevant journals based on judgments of the VHB members. Soon the VHB4 should also come.

Over 1,100 members of the VHB have carried out a total of 64,113 reviews of magazines in recent months. Of the 934 journals that were rated, 651 journals exceeded the 25 rating threshold and received a rating. These are divided as follows:

  • 22 outstanding and world-leading scientific journals in the field of business administration (A+ = 3.4%),
  • 72 leading scientific business journals (A = 11.1%),
  • 217 important and respected scientific business journals (B = 33.3%),
  • 273 recognised business journals (C = 41.9%) And
  • 59 scientific business journals (D = 9.1%).

The advantages are that academic sources are precisely tested for quality by so-called reviewers and thus have a higher maturity than a journalistic article. Academic articles can be quoted at any time and you can choose one of the usual styles (APA, Havard Style,…). As a rule, you mark the source in the text as Lindner (2018) or for direct quotes: “Example text” (Lindner 2018, p. 5) with page number. You can use a tool such as Mendeley or Citavi to collect the sources and generate a source directory. I’m not intentionally explaining this anymore, because software takes all the work away from you.

Reading Tip: Source Management

Can I stop taking sources from practice?

I fundamentally believe that practical sources are just as relevant and why should good sources not be able to become in the work? Of course, you should use such sources however with some caution and labelling. A practical source usually distinguishes a lack of quality control and often high subjectivity or journalistic background. I give three examples of how to use a practical source according to an academic source:

Example 1: In the context of SMEs, the topic of big data is also examined in a dedicated way. That’s how Ivers et al. (2016) 152 SMEs from Ireland on big data. The results are that big data is viewed rather tentatively due to the lack of financial strength and the high cost of data protection. Niebler and Lindner (2019) express further concerns and risks in a practical textbook and see them in the area of data protection, possible monitoring, manipulation and uselessness of the evaluations of big data. – taken from Lindner and Leyh (2019)

Example 2: Lindner et al. (2018) examined three SMEs in a study and found that work 4.0 scenes such as remote work, agile methods, flexitime, freedom of choice in IT, flexible employment contracts, home office and much more can achieve higher skill satisfaction and successful recruiting in SMEs. A practical study by the recruiting company Hays (2018) shows that much is being tested in the context of agility, but not everything works. taken from Lindner and Leyh (2019)

Example 3: A study by the German Aerospace Industry Association (2019) found that around half a million drones are currently in commercial use. One concrete example is DHL in particular: according to an article in a trade magazine, the company says that since 2014, in field trials, parcels have been delivered with drones (DHL parcel copter T3N 2018). taken from Lindner (2019)

It is important that you properly explain and classify the sources into academic and non-academic sources. They distance themselves from the sources and show the content neutrally. Undertone: Here readers: There are different sources that I present to you from academy and practice.

Be sure to coordinate the use of practical sources with the maintainer beforehand, as some maintainers will not tolerate practical sources. This is a matter of opinion.

Reading tip: Literature analysis

How do I quote sources from practice correctly?

Sources from practice are often PDF’s, magazines or blog articles like this one. You quote exactly the same, except that you often specify a polling date. Example:

Business Week (2019) – Article name retrieved on 14.04.20. domain.de/artikelname

Often you will not find author names or a year. For the year you can take either the current year or the abbreviation for without year – example: Economic Week (o.J.). If you can’t find an author, look at the URL or the imprint of the website. For example, you could quote my blog article under Dominic Lindner or Agile-Unternehmen.de. You can also quote studies by Capgemini or Accenture simply by mentioning the company. Note: Look at the copyrights beforehand. For example, it is always possible to transfer graphics from academic papers (Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 3.0) with names. You will always find the licenses on the pages of the journals. In the Academy this is always this license in 99% of cases. In practice books, the license belongs to the publishers and you should at least make sure that you are allowed to take it. If necessary, write to the author.

Reading tip: Quotes here in the blog


Practical sources are often a great addition and make the work rounder as they contain more relevant information. However, these must be used with care and a certain distance. In general, I think that any work should always be a source of relevance, both practical and academic. Practical sources are always delimited in my work by a hint for the reader.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/b%C3%BCcher-regale-library-reading-1680953/


Lindner, D., & Leyh, C. (2019). Digitization of SMEs – questions, recommendations for action as well as implications for IT organization and IT service management. HMD – Practice of Business Informatics, 22.


Federal Association of the German Aerospace Industry. (2019). The German drone market. Retrieved from https://www.bdli.de/meldungen/der-deutsche-drohnenmarkt-hat-grosses-potenzial-deutschland-darf-aber-international-nicht. Seen 10.10.2019

T3N. (2018). DHL delivers parcel salyated by drone for the first time. Retrieved from https://t3n.de/news/dhl-privatkunden-paket-drohne-705041. seen Jul 18, 2018

Niebler, P. & Lindner, D. (2019). Data-based decision-making – A guide for entrepreneurs and decision-makers. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.

Lindner, D., Ludwig, T., & Amberg, M. (2018). Work 4.0 – Concepts for a new way of working in SMEs. HMD – Practice of Business Informatics, 55 (1)

Lindner, D. (2019). SMEs in digital transformation – results from empirical studies on work, leadership, and organisation. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler.

Ivers, A. M., Byrne, J. & Byrne, PJ. (2016). Analysis of SME data readiness: a simulation perspective. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 23(1), 163-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-03-2014-0046

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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