Quote Internet sources – scientific work

Off and online sources

Sources are indispensable, so z. B. a bachelor thesis / master thesis is accepted by the supervisor. In a scientific work reputable sources are required, which are verifiable: books and print media. Quoting Internet sources, however, is a controversial issue.

Their relevance depends on many factors. Above all, first-semester students should mention as few Internet sources as possible in their first scientific work because they can not properly assess the relevance of online sources due to their lack of experience in writing scientific papers.

Why are online sources cited?
However, quoting from the Internet has become indispensable in the preparation of scientific texts. Internet resources can be found in doctoral theses as well as in presentations or research applications. They are often listed as secondary literature in the bibliography. You should be aware that the online source is not always considered reputable.

Here it is important to look for a source that meets some quality criteria.

  • Necessary elements for online sources
  • author
  • Heading of the text
  • Release Date
  • URL
  • call date
  • Quoting internet sources correctly
  • Citing web pages is not very different from the normal print sources. You must first specify the author and then the headline of the website. If applicable, the date of publication of the text may be indicated if it can be found. This is followed by the URL where you can find the quote. Furthermore, it is important that the call date is also specified. This is done to document when the source was online. Due to the fast pace of the Internet, it can happen that the text at the given URL can no longer be found, especially if the retrieval date is far in the past.

Depending on the citation method, the order of the elements is different! Check individual citation methods with examples!


When creating the quote, please note that the hyperlink in the bibliography is removed. Because the hyperlink can hide underscores, which changes the URL of the link. Furthermore, you should create a hyphen for a line break a URL, since these also change the website and the link is not available.

Dubious Internet sources
Quoting Internet sources is not perceived as too serious. There are serious reasons for this:

No publisher / magazine / author
Internet sources are not always credible. Often there is no publisher or journal behind the text, so the author can not be verified.

No imprint
Quoting web pages that have a very unusual character in the URL or an unformatted layout, without the author, date or imprint, quickly give the impression that they are untrustworthy.

Not scientifically founded
Quoting Dubious, an unknown website, can quickly give the impression that the information published there is not scientifically sound.

Modify content
The text can be modified by the author, so that the quote after some time is no longer available.

Website accessibility
Citing content from the Internet is risky because it can be deleted (so-called 404 error). For this reason it is recommended to print the online text and to archive it.

Reputable websites
On the Internet, there are not only inferior sources (for example, Wikipedia is very reluctant to refer to scientific papers as sources), but interesting sources can be found. There are some criteria that should be considered when quoting a text from the Internet or reproducing it in terms of content.

Author and publication date
Thus, the statement of an author and the publication date for seriousness speaks.

Furthermore, the website is also a first sign of whether it is a reputable online source or not.

Pages of newspapers / magazines etc.
Pages of newspapers, magazines, institutes or well-known services from a special field are regarded as serious. At the same time, the seriousness is evident in the design of the page. A good structure and processing of an article speaks for itself.

Websites of libraries / institutes
Furthermore, there are websites that can be classified as serious without any great consideration, such as websites of libraries, scientific institutes or research projects.

E-books / brochures
In addition, access to ebooks is great these days, so you can read all the books on your PC. In addition, you can easily retrieve company brochures that are up to date and, for example, for research on specific companies (as is usual in economics work) can serve. In addition, representative current studies published in the network are incorporated into many works.

Websites can be an asset to your work, provided you know the citation rules and can correctly identify Internet sources!
This is what universities / colleges say about Internet sources

There is usually no author on the internet
The FOM Hochschule warns against Internet sources, as most of the time the author of the cited text is not mentioned. If the students opt for an internet source where no author is specified, the students should quote the person responsible from the imprint.

Only cite legitimate Internet sources / Internet sources as a guide
The University of Cologne points out that one can find on the Internet both reputable and dubious sources. The cited online sources can be used, but dubious sources should be avoided. Internet resources are good for research and should be considered as a guide.

Replace websites with book sources / magazines
At the University of Munich, attention is drawn to the fact that much information that can be found on the Internet also appears in book sources / magazines.

No quality control of the websites
The University of Bonn sensitizes the students for the use of Internet sources in scientific work. On the Internet, the content is usually not controlled and therefore they are not credible.

In addition, the University of Bonn draws attention to an interesting fact: On Wikipedia, there are always references to technical literature, which was used to write the Wikipedia article. With the knowledge you have already found the first sources for your scientific work and can lend these literature positions in a library.

No suitable basis for scientific texts
Like most universities and colleges, the University of Potsdam also advises against Internet sources in scientific work.