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Bibliographic management

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Bibliographic software enables you to store and manage your references and automatically generate bibliographies in a variety of styles.

The Open University supports the following reference managers:

MyReferences is a simple referencing tool which will cover all your basic referencing needs at under graduate level. RefWorks is a more advanced tool offering a wider range of referencing management options. With its highly customisable interface, EndNote is more appropriate for post graduate users working with large numbers of references for projects and dissertations.

This page will tell you more about these resources and some other free software which has similar functionality. It also provides details about setting up the Papers system for Macs to access resources through the Open University subscriptions.

For more general guidance on referencing see Referencing and plagiarism.


The Open University MyReferences tool aims to improve referencing skills and prevent plagiarism. MyReferences will help you to organise your references and create a bibliography in the OU Harvard style. MyReferences' simple interface is ideal if you are new to referencing and would like to use an automated tool. If you would like to use additional functionality, such as other reference styles, or more complicated folder structures and additional fields, you can easily progress from MyReferences to RefWorks. References saved to MyReferences are automatically stored in RefWorks. MyReferences includes a link to your own RefWorks account where you can view and edit your references and create a bibliography.

You can use MyReferences to:

  • Add references manually or from database searches
  • Select a referencing style and create a bibliography enabling you to insert citations and bibliographies/reference lists into assignments.
  • Export references to other bibliographic software and share your references in your Open University blog postings, forums and wikis.

For guidance on how to add, import, view, delete and edit references, how to manage folders, how to create a bibliography and how to export and share references using MyReferences, please see the MyReferences section in the Computing Guide.


 RefWorks is a web-based reference manager that will let you:

  • save references from online databases
  • create a bibliography in Open University (Harvard) reference style. (The 'Open University (Harvard)' style is included with other referencing styles available in RefWorks. Choose 'Bibliography' and select 'Output Style Manager')  

You can also use RefWorks to store files within a reference (up to 5mb each, with a 100mb limit per user). Refworks is based in the USA and any personal information you supply to Refworks may be held there.

Update Profile problem

RefWorks have added a 'Confirm your password' feature to the Update Profile option. Should you attempt to make any changes to the details you have registered with RefWorks, such as your name or email address a 'Confirm your password' window will appear. This feature will not recognise your Open University password. Please contact the Library Helpdesk if you would like to update information in your RefWorks profile.

How do I access RefWorks and create an account?

RefWorks is freely available to current Open University students and staff. You will be invited to create an account the first time you access RefWorks. You may be asked for your Open University computer username and password at a 'Sign into the OU website' page. (Turn off the pop-up window blocker on your web browser before you access RefWorks.)

  • If you have not used RefWorks before, RefWorks will open at an 'Accept terms and conditions' page. A Create Account' window will then open (disregard the 'Link an existing RefWorks Account to this Shibboleth Account' message)
  • Add your email address at 'Step 1: Account Information' (this does not need to be an Open University email address)
  • Add your name at 'Step 2: User Information' and choose the most appropriate options from the 'Area of Focus' and 'Type of User' menus. Type the code given at the end of the 'Create Account' form and select 'Create Account'
  • You will receive an email from RefWorks to confirm your registration
  • Contact the Library Helpdesk if you have any problems accessing RefWorks or creating an account
  • Please also contact the Library Helpdesk should you need to access the 'Update Profile' option in RefWorks to revise your registration details.

How do I find out how RefWorks works?

RefWorks has produced a variety of support material to help you get started and learn about advanced features available from RefWorks:

  • Refworks Community website
    The RefWorks Community website is a new source of guidance and support. The 'Resources' section includes the 'RefWorks Quick Start Guide' and the 'RefWorks Advanced Features Handbook'. Please note that the login process described in video 1.0, 'Introduction - Learn RefWorks in 20 Minutes', is slightly different for members of the Open Uiversity. Please see 'How do I access RefWorks and create an account' (above) for details. 
  • RefWorks Quick Start Guide
    This step-by-step guide includes instructions showing how to attach a file to a reference. It also shows how to use RefWorks to add citations and references to a Word document using the One Line/Cite View option.
  • RefWorks Help File
    Further information is available from the Help File within RefWorks.


A mobile version of RefWorks is available to use on an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or similar device with web access. You will need to use a different username and password to access RefMobile to those you use to log in to RefWorks and other Open University resources. Please contact the Library Helpdesk to make changes to your RefWorks profile and gain access to RefMobile.

How can I access my references after I've finished my module?

When you finish your module access to all online library resources, including RefWorks, will be withdrawn due to licence agreements with suppliers. If you wish to keep your references choose from one of the options below. Make sure you do this before the end of your studies.

  • You can pay to subscribe to the service as an individual from the RefWorks website and then backup all your references from your OU account and restore them into your new personal account.
  • Export your references from Refworks as either a BibText or RIS file and import them into another package. Some examples are given below, but note that they may not offer the same level of functionality as RefWorks.


EndNote will enable you to:

  • organise, store and manage your references
  • create bibliographies automatically
  • directly import references from databases (e.g Web of Science) and library catalogues

How do I get the software?

The software is available for on-campus users and those based at the OU regional centres through the IT department. To request EndNote please raise a ticket via the IT Self Service system.

 OU students and tutors not based on campus who would still like to use EndNote have been able to purchase it from Adept Scientific in the past.  It is no longer available from this source. Try the following site as an alternative way of purchasing EndNote at a discounted rate, remembering to use your OU email address.

How do I find out how EndNote works?

  1. View the online tutorials or attend a webinar, provided by EndNote.
  2. For advice on how to use EndNote in conjunction with Library databases and output styles visit the EndNote files and filters page.
  3. The EndNote X6 user guide is available as a PDF file.
  4. View the EndNote training channel's videos on YouTube

 A series of EndNote 'How to' Guides, developed by Adept Scientific,  provide step-by-step instructions for carrying out some key tasks with the EndNote referencing managing software. There are seven 'How to' Guides to choose from:



Using Papers

Papers is a bibliographic management software available for Mac that can search a number of databases from within it. We do not support users of this program, but provide the following advice on setting it up to access resources through the OU Library subscriptions:

  1. From Papers Preferences choose the Sources tab
  2. Set the authentication url to
  3. Set the Library proxy to
  4. Close preferences and restart Papers.

This will allow you to use most of the search options in Papers, but to use Web of Science you need to modify a support file called gatewayurl.txt which is found in the following path:

Users/username/Library/Application Support/Papers/PlugIns/SearchEngines/WOSSearchEngine.searchengine/Contents/Resources/

Open this file and replace the single text line with this one (make sure there are no line breaks in the string):


We have no licence for Papers, so if you wish to use it you will need to purchase it from the link above.

Other bibliographic management software:

There are a number of free services which offer similar functionality to those above:

  • Zotero - a free bibliographic software extension for users of the Firefox browser. Features include automatic capture of information from websites, formatted citation export, integration with Microsoft Word.
  • CiteULike - a free social bookmarking service to help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading. It specialises in academic papers.
  • BibSonomy - is a free social bookmarking service enabling exporting in a variety of formats and feeds.
  • JabRef - is an open source bibliography reference manager that interfaces with bibsonomy but can also be used stand-alone.
  • Mendeley - is a free reference manager and academic social network.
  • Qiqqa -  has advanced features to allow management and use of PDFs for academic purposes. Freeware access option.



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