How to cite correctly
Why cite at all?
While writing an academic paper, you will use other publications, e.g. books and journal articles, to obtain in-depth information on your research topic.
You will deal with ideas, arguments and results of other authors and thereby come to your own views or agree with others.
In order to avoid plagiarism and to maintain good scientific practice, it is imperative to separate other authors‘ word phrases, ideas, arguments, results and text structures etc. from your own ideas.
- Taking the ideas of others and presenting them as your own (i.e. plagiarism) can have repercussions with regard to university legislation, e.g. your academic qualifications may be revoked.
- Compliance with good scientific practice includes, among other things, the comprehensibility and verifiability of one's own scientific findings as well as the separation of one's own achievements from those of others. Correct citation ensures both.
- Under certain legal conditions, so-called statutory exceptions,
(Section 51 UrhG - Quotations and Section 63 UrhG – Acknowledgement of source), the use of protected works is permitted by copyright law
(Section 2 UrhG). Works of literature, science and art with a certain level of intellectual creation may be used in the context of a citation. Thereby, the source of a quote has to be clearly acknowledged.
- Being cited means motivation and recognition among scientists for their research work.
The term "citation" means that the use of other authors' intellectual property within your own scientific work is marked directly in the body text. At the end of the paper, list all sources in a bibliography.
There are two citation forms:
Direct quotation: word-for-word report of what someone else wrote, use double quotation marks („...“)
Indirect quotation: reformulate what you have read in your own (!) words
In addition to marking citations and indicating sources, proper citation means using a consistent citation style in your scientific work. Reference management software provides an appropriate solution. With the help of these programs, you can easily manage your references right from the start, organize and edit them, and export your citations and literature sources according to your chosen citation style.
Depending on the discipline, different citation styles are used. Frequently, citations are made according to the so-called Harvard system. A well-known citation style that uses this citation method is the APA citation style of the American Psychological Association. In STM subjects, other citation styles are mostly used, e.g. IEEE editorial style of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
As a matter of precaution, ask your supervisor about the citation style to be used.
Tips for proper citations
- Clearly mark anything that was not contributed by you: word phrases, ideas, argumentations, structures. General knowledge and basic knowledge within a field of expertise is excluded.
- Cite only that, which you have read and reviewed yourself.
- Referenced sources must be locatable. Citation makes statements comprehensible and verifiable.
- Summarize all references used in your work in a reference list.
- Be consistent in the way you record your references (citation style). Ask your supervisor for the formal guidelines.
- Do no quote anything you do not understand.
- Do not change the meaning of your statement by omitting text. This is especially important in a direct quote. Omissions should be labelled by using three dots in square brackets ([...]).
- Be careful to keep the original meaning when paraphrasing texts.
- Avoid quotations containing more quotations. Check the original source if possible.