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Citability is a requirement placed by editors on written sources that should be used for citation in academic papers . Together with the citation , it supports the selection of sources for scientific papers. There are no generally accepted, universal criteria as to what is quotable or worthy of quotation, nor a general institutional or personal body that would be concerned with judging or thinking about it. These are always conventions made within the framework of a specific editorial body for the purpose of quality assurance .

Criteria for citability

The requirements for citable material vary from subject to subject and from one place of publication to another. In general, all sources that are citable and published in any form are valid. In addition, citable sources should be permanently verifiable. This criterion is met by any secondary literature that is commonly found in libraries (publications such as books or magazines). It is also fulfilled by archive material, including unpublished sources . However, this material must already have been developed. Oral information and interviews are therefore usually not quotable, but in scientific texts information is sometimes cited in a paraphrase of the content and marked with 'Personal communication NN'. Problematic borderline cases are many types of electronic publications (see below).

In the case of scientific literature, another important criterion for citability is that the authors are named so that it can be identified who is responsible for the cited content. (This is the main reason why, for example, a Wikipedia entry can only be cited to a limited extent from a scientific point of view.)

In some subjects (e.g. computer science ) it is quite common to occasionally cite sources in scientific papers that cannot be cited in the above sense, especially websites. Often, however, a different form of citation is chosen, for example a note instead of the usual reference in a literature list. Since some websites are assumed to be stable, the transitions are fluid.

When selecting sources for scientific papers, the citability of the sources should also be guaranteed.

Citability of electronic media

With the advent of the internet and texts there, the question of whether internet sources can be quoted is increasingly discussed, which is usually denied. The information on websites is often not provided with evidence and, moreover, can often not be assigned to an author, so it cannot be used as a reference for a scientific paper (no strong citability ). Another problem is that the content of websites can change constantly (no weak citability ). However, sources from the Internet can be found in many scientific papers. In some cases, this cannot be avoided because, particularly with current issues, often only the Internet can provide the necessary information and standard literature is often not (yet) available. It is then important that the Internet sources are cited correctly in order to be able to prove their origin. Internet sources are usually cited as follows: Name of the page or author:, access on date and time .

Otherwise the problem will citability in scientific promotions or online - journals discussed: The texts published in online journals could appear printed in principle in a journal and be responsible author multiple of one, which is why they are considered highly quotable. However, it is often questionable whether long-term availability is guaranteed as well as with paper publications, so that the poor citability is then unclear.

The problems of durability and immutability can by attaching ( disk , system , backup are dissolved the source). However, this does not yet prove the correctness and originality of the source.


  • Marcus Willamowski: Internet pages can be cited. In: JurPC Web-Doc. 78/2000, paras. 1-14.
  • T. Schwenke: Social Media Marketing & Law. Cologne 2012, p. 156.

Individual evidence

  1. Manuel René Theisen: Scientific work. Technology - methodology - form. 15th updated edition. Franz Vahlen, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-8006-3830-7 , p. 140.