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

Details of the individual citation styles

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

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

Tip: Use one for this Source management program . I use Mendeley. These are free and help with work. Once you’ve put this in, there are two ways to cite the source:

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

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

Special cases when quoting

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

  • Cite website
  • Cite articles with no author or year

Quoting a website is very easy. Just take the URL and search for an author such as this article: Dominic Lindner or take Agile Companies. You then need a request date.

IfM. (2017). Definitions of SMEs and Mittelstand. Retrieved from https://www.ifm-bonn.org/definUNGEN/ viewed at 05/05/2020.

Now there are some white papers with no year. This is also quite easy, just use: Lindner (no year) – that means without a year. It is only important that you can assign the sources in the text. You can quote as follows even without an author: oA (2015). However, I think that you should always find an author in the paper. If necessary, it is a company like Capgemini or they take the middle part of the URL, for example: Agile companies. This shouldn’t happen unless you find a source in a message in a bottle that washed up on you.

Try to use sources without year and author only very rarely and only if there is no other way.

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

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

Reading tip: Literature analysis

To make this clearer for you, I will show a small example based on two sources on the subject of “efficiency of agile teams”. The first is a practice source and the other is an academic source.

In a textbook, Gloger (2012) explains that teams can achieve greater efficiency using the Scum method and that such methodologies in particular are a sensible solution for introducing agility in many teams. The author only uses his own experience and individual cases from his professional environment for argumentation, but gives exciting impulses. The study by Lindner et al. (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 procedures, which is given by agile methods and leads to greater success.

You will notice that I have always named the authors and the research goal. Then I presented the methodology (e.g. interviews with 300 agile teams from SMEs in Ireland) as well as the most important results for the research question. You pack source to source according to this scheme. You also notice that I have set a limit for the practical – not academic – textbook. I showed. that it is a specialist book and that the findings are not based on academic methods but on personal experience.

Reading tip: Can I only use academic literature?


You will notice that quoting is not difficult and that you have to adhere to rules that have been formulated. You should just read them and familiarize yourself with them. To do this, use a literature management program and it will be easier. Note a few special cases and write down the literature sensibly.


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 Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik , 6th (1), 17.

[fotolia] [student]

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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