Scientific Formalities: The Citation Style

Knowledge of the formalities is a necessity in scientific work – a necessity, however, that makes it difficult for just freshmen when they are confused with a jumble of different citation styles.

Formalities undoubtedly have their meaning: they provide (albeit not interdisciplinary, at least for each individual subject) a certain standardization of the work and thus facilitate reading, citation and the indication of references. The famous edge of 4 centimeters offers the lecturer enough space for own notes.

One of the most important formalities is the citation style: For some economics papers, it makes perfect sense to quote American, ie to put the author and the year in parentheses in the body text. Other subjects prefer the classic footnotes – who writes a text on classical studies, it is usually not as urgent as a stressed company founder and can if necessary also direct his gaze to the bottom of the page, rather than to take author and publication year directly from the line. More important than the person of the author is usually the knowledge he conveys.

On the other hand, it can be exaggerated – and some lecturers tend to; At the latest when the shape becomes more important than the content, caution is required. Especially at the beginning of the study, when the formalities are not yet well controlled, they sometimes represent a serious problem that can greatly tarnish the enjoyment of scientific work.

Nevertheless, there is no way around adapting to the requirements. Formalities should have gone so far into the students’ minds that the topic can be brought to the fore and the writing process should not be interrupted by constantly reviewing and comparing the citation with the template.

It will often pay off in the course of the study, invest a few minutes and internalize the citation style. It is with the considerations “Footnotes or not?” And “How do I give the used literature?” Not done, because proper citation is much more than that: It means above all the correct reproduction of literal quotations, of analogous assumed trains of thought and their use in their own context.

The errors here can range from falsification to the omission of important aspects to the unnecessary citation of larger sections of text, which have no actual reference to their own topic. In case of doubt, a short feedback should be obtained from the supervisor of the work or the tutor.

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