Things 15 and 16 - Endnote Web and Zotero

Bibliographic or Reference Management Software tools.

Things 15 and 16 are all about bibliographic or reference management software packages. We’re going to have a closer look at Endnote Web and Zotero. If you decide that you want to start using either package, you will need to register and create an account. However, Things 15 and 16 do not require you to register.

You may have heard or been asked about services such as Endnote, Endnote Web, RefWorks, Reference Manager, Zotero or Mendeley, to name but a few. For the purposes of 23 Things, we just want to raise your awareness about what these tools do and how our staff and students may make use of them.

So how do these tools work?

Anyone undertaking any level of research needs to collect, store and manage the references they are finding as a result of their searching. Pre-computers, a common way of dealing with references was to use index cards and have a manual file on your desktop. With the advent of PC’s, it became possible to create lists in Word or Excel. However, researchers still needed to manually format the references in the required referencing style for each document. So, if you submitted an article to a journal that used the Harvard style of referencing and it was rejected, and you then re-submitted it to another journal that used the Vancouver system, the references had to be manually re-formatted.

In an online world there are different obstacles. You may print off the full text of an article, save it as a PDF file, email it to yourself. So, you have the full text but the bibliographic details that you need to cite the references and create a bibliography are stored in different places and are difficult to retrieve.

Bibliographic or Reference Management Software tools go one step further and allow you to create your own database of useful references. The idea is that you save and store the bibliographic details (and sometimes the full text) of the references you have found whilst researching a topic, be they articles, books, conference papers or web sites, effectively creating your own personal database. You can then search and sort the references.

The clever bit is that you can then connect between your chosen package and Word to create a customised bibliography in your preferred referencing style at the end of your document. If you change your mind about what referencing style you want or need to use, you can quickly reformat the references with a couple of clicks.

As you can imagine, these products are very popular with students, especially postgraduates and final year undergraduates writing theses and dissertations. Although some people are disappointed when they realise that they still have to write the actual essay!

Bibliographic Management Software tools have traditionally been subscription services, restricted to desktop PCs, which has meant that people can only use the software from on campus – or have had to purchase their own copy, for example Endnote and Reference Manager. Over the last few years, some of the bigger companies have produced web based versions, such as RefWorks and Endnote Web that organisations can subscribe to, allowing off campus access. With the advent of Web 2.0, a number of freely available, open access packages have been developed, such as Zotero and Mendeley.

The University currently subscribes to Endnote. Staff and students can access Endnote X4 from any University PC. This is the full version of the software. We also have access to the web version – Endnote web. This is the version that Academic Support staff promote and provide training on. Thing 16 will introduce you to our Endnote Web page. We are currently running weekly training sessions in the Training Room (you may have seen our advertising via the Library’s Twitter and Facebook services and the plasma screens) – feel free to come along!

Thing 15: Zotero.
Zotero is a freely available reference management tool that is available for use with the Firefox browser. (They have just launched a standalone version that does not require Firefox). Zotero allows you to tag and share your references.
Watch this short screencast, explaining how Zotero works:

Thing 16: Endnote Web.
This is the version that the University subscribes to. Familiarise yourself with our Endnote Web page and the support that is available to staff and students.

The workbook will take people through creating an account, adding references and creating a bibliography. The Endnote Web Filters section provides instructions on how to send references from our various databases to Endnote Web.

Optional extra.
Create your own Endnote Web account and work through workbook to gain a better understanding of the software.