Referencing, RefWorks, University Library

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Research Methods

Our University Library is brilliant. It has so much stuff that you might not know about – especially eBooks and Journals. They have subscriptions to so many sources it’s mind boggling.

But how do you manage your references in the face of such a wealth of information?

Our University Library also has subscriptions to services such as RefWorks. This tool aims to make managing your references easier than doing so manually. It has the ability to automatically create reference stubs, bibliographies, citations etc.

It could be a really useful thing, but it seems overly complex to me. For example, you have to enter all the elements which make up your reference manually. Ok, so it’s stored semantically in a database, and can be reported on in different manners, but it’s still a manual process for you to input this data initially.

I wonder how this actually improves your referencing over just being fastidious and fully referencing your sources as you go.

So who uses RefWorks or similar tools? Do they really help vs just typing it in Word/Excel/some cloud system? I’m still in two minds as to whether the effort of learning the tool outweighs just being wise and building my references as I find them.

  1. Tony says:

    I tried using refworks but didn’t find it that useful. If there was a one click add to refworks from the library search results page like there is within the ebooks I would use it.

    • rymixxx says:

      I’m erring towards not using it on the basis that I’ve not had any problems with referencing so far. But the Dissertation is a far larger thing than I’ve done before. Raj mentioned that the Dissertation would probably have 50-or-so references. I’ve already hit over 70 references in previous assignments, so I guess I might end up with well over a hundred for the Dissertation. This is the only thing that makes me think a referencing tool would be of use.

      It seems to me that good referencing is about being disciplined, not the tool you use.

  2. Stephanie Faulkner says:

    Just want to clarify that you can easily import information into RefWorks from a huge amount of online database publishers as well as the Anglia Ruskin library catalogue! Here is a link to a detailed handout created by your librarians that may help you.

    The generally is very little need to enter information manually. Plus RefWorks helps you organize and manage all your research information.

    • rymixxx says:

      Thanks Stephanie. Following your comment I spent some time getting to understand the system and how it works. I have softened my stance somewhat. It’s actually quite brilliant, and does pretty much everything I could want it to do.

      However, I stand by my initial assertion that the user interface is difficult to understand. It could do with some streamlining, although I admit that I wouldn’t really know where to start. So many options in such a flexible system…doesn’t really fit with the Apple model of ‘one big button’!

      Thanks for your help.

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