How to reference

Managing your references

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When you are researching a written assignment, you can end up using a lot of sources - especially if you are writing a dissertation. The best way to manage these references is to use reference management software. You may have been introduced to EndNote by your university, as it is the most commonly used reference management software in academia, but there are number of other management programmes available. There are even some open source packages (that are free to use) if you don't have access to EndNote.

Reference management software is incredibly useful for recording, organising and using references. Programmes like EndNote consist of a database into which you manually add references that you can then use as often as necessary to make bibliographies and reference lists.

EndNote also allows you to choose the referencing style (Harvard etc.) that you'd like your references displayed in, saving you a lot of time and effort later. It will allow you to choose the type of reference you add (for example, journal article, book chapter, website etc.), and will format the reference in the correct way.

Many reference management programmes (including EndNote) can be integrated with word processing software to allow you to 'cite as you write', automatically generating a list of references as you write. It's worth getting the hang of this feature, as it's invaluable if you're undertaking a long assignment, and it helps ensure you don't miss any references out of your reference list.

Many universities run workshops or short courses on using EndNote, and if yours does, make sure you attend. If you haven't received any reference management software training, or you'd like to brush up your skills, there are plenty of good Internet tutorials available.

Activity: using reference management software - 5 minutes

Learning how to get the most out of reference management software is worth doing. You'll save yourself a lot of time and effort in the long-run.

We concentrate on EndNote in this activity, as this is the programme most commonly used in universities. There are a number of EndNote tutorials on the web, we've provided links to a few in the activity below. Feel free to search the web for more.

1. If you're new to EndNote, take a look at the Introductory EndNote: Getting Started document provided by Queensland University of Technology. This is a pdf document, which you can print out and use as a useful introduction to the basics of EndNote.

2. There's a good tutorial on the EndNote Website.

3. If you'd like to try a different EndNote tutorial, take a look at this Introductory Tutorial which is also provided by Queensland University of Technology.

4. The University of Newcastle, Australia also have a useful set of EndNote Tutorials.

Plagiarism is serious, and on the next page we explore plagiarism avoidance strategies.

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