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7. Appendix A: Extracts from the OU Business Case

The following text is all reproduced from the business case built at the Open University for work on integrating reference management tools into the OU learning environment.

There is a real need for students, course and programme teams to be able to create, manipulate, manage, organise and store a range of citations and bibliographic references in required discipline specific styles and formats within our current OUVLE tools. It is particularly important to support increasing numbers of students who are studying on courses requiring production of larger assignments and projects, including work-based learners.

This business case aims to deliver solutions which

  • investigate and provide recommendations for delivering more robust and scalable solutions for integrating course, programme based and library specific citations and bibliographic references in courseware and web learning spaces.
  • ensure the organisation makes more effective use of its current subscription based bibliographic management tools (Refworks and also potentially Endnote) and integrates them within our current OUVLE tools and structured authoring solutions.
  • build capacity to support more effective resource management for course and programme teams which can ensure efficient, timely and more flexible distribution of our freely available and subscription based resources to learners in line with their requirements.
  • seek to test the scalability and performance of incorporating other tools within the broader bibliographic management solution, such as the library’s SFX direct resource linking tool.

Integrating bibliographic management services with OUVLE tools.

Why would we wish to do this?

EndNote and RefWorks are bibliographic software packages which will enable you to:

  • organise, store and manage references
  • create bibliographies for activities and assignments
  • insert citations in the text of your document in the chosen style using Microsoft Word.
  • output bibliographies in the chosen style e.g. Harvard, numbered, MLA.
  • instantly edit hundreds of different, ready-made styles to suit your needs, or to create new ones
  • store reference information for over 30 reference types, e.g. web page, electronic journal article
  • assign keywords to references in order to sort by subject etc.
  • insert information simultaneously into a particular field in a number of references (e.g. if you wanted to add a keyword to several references)

What impact will there be for students, course and programme teams in not doing this?

  • Complexity and fragmentation of experience for the student with the Library as another parallel system with different interfaces
  • Students will view the library as a separate entity from their learning experience rather than an integral part of it
  • Students will make less use of the quality assured resources available in the library for their studies
  • Less convenience for the Student – not able to store and use references and citations to Library and other resources in the places they choose
  • In response to ELQ, course and programme teams will be less likely to naturally embed library materials within course content and activities as part of the authoring process
  • Less  integrated approach to supporting student scholarship skills development, in terms of helping them with managing references, creating bibliographies and avoiding plagiarism
  • Losing the opportunity to help the move to less content in courses by giving students a system for building their own learning materials (and storing them in such a way that they can feed future presentations)
  • There are significant sustainability issues in relation to the MyOpenLibrary product and we need to develop services based on current technologies

The project’s objectives are to deliver solutions which enable students to

  • save a citation index of all their course/programme materials and embedded library references into MyStuff
  • create their own simple bibliographies for course related activities and assignments in MyStuff and publish them to the eTMA system and other webspaces

Benefits to students:


  • flexible and simple solutions to storing and managing course related references in one place
  • an integrated tool to build citation libraries and publish bibliographies in a range of citation styles and formats as required by the programme or course team discipline
  • enable course and programme teams to
  • produce consistent, standardised, high quality production of citation and reference management within OU learning materials which can be flexibly delivered to a range of distributed networked environments as well as print materials

Benefits for students, programme and course teams:

  • more effective manipulation and management of citations and bibliographic references embedded within print based and online materials i.e.XML schema to be extended to associate/ nest with Refworks XML
  • ability to render citations and bibliographic references within course materials and online resources consistently and systematically in appropriate formats and styles (increase value and quality assurance

Develop a more integrated technical solution through testing the ability, usability and scalability of using our current subscription based tools to create course/programme elearning  libraries

Benefits for students, programme and course teams:

  • easy export of course or programme based libraries to relevant websites (via Refworks XML) in a range of required citation and bibliographic formatted styles
  • more scalable support for building elearning focussed libraries
  • consistency of approach to ensure quality assurance
  • support the development of student scholarship and student centric course/programme pedagogies
  • local copies can be created so risks around using commercial third party solutions can be mitigated


Expected impact on the University’s customers:

Customer group Impact
Existing students Enhanced student experience; better access for more users to high-quality, trusted expert collections subscribed to by the Library sources used are at the appropriate level for the course therefore quality of assessed work is improved; improved information literacy skills (transferable);
Library staff To build relationships with OU customers encouraging constant and purposeful change by inviting user participation in the creation of the virtual services, supported by consistently evaluating services.

Reduced number of pages to be maintained in websites

Less time spent on updates and maintenance;

Reduced time spent on minor helpdesk enquiries, allowing more time to be spent on value-added services

The institution New business opportunities opened up

Opens up partnership opportunities


Partners will benefit by receiving customised libraries that meet expectations and which comply to licensing arrangements, whilst also being provided with tools which support personalisation, should they wish to use them.

OU effectiveness and efficiency

The proof of concepts will aim to capture wherever possible quantifiable benefits in order to inform strategic direction and development for future service and systems integration. In particular attempts will be made to process cost the following elements on a course basis:

Efficiency savings

  • reduced cost in find and retrieval time for customers;
  • ease of use results in improved take up of Library Services resources by course teams;
  • reuse of existing OU system leads to reduced development time;
  • reduced staffing costs – helpdesk queries, maintenance of sites, staff training;
  • use of database and dynamic content makes editing processes more efficient.

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