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The best way to keep track of your references is to keep a record of the articles you have read. Reference management tools help you to organise your references and automatically generate reference lists or bibliographies in a variety of styles. Bibliographic management is another term used to describe these tools and their use.

Moving away from RefWorks and My References by April 2016

The OU has made a decision to move away from supporting RefWorks and its dependent MyReferences service.

This is because of the growth in freely available reference management tools, which can give you continuing access to your references once you have finished your studies.

MyReferences will be available until December 2015, and RefWorks until the 31st March 2016, to allow you sufficient time to choose an alternative tool.

For guidance on exporting your references from RefWorks and MyReferences to other tools see Moving your references out of RefWorks.

If you currently have an Open University RefWorks or MyReferences account, you can access this using the relevant link below.

Selecting a reference management tool

Before you begin using a reference management tool, it is best to concentrate on developing your referencing skills. If you are going to keep records of large numbers of references then it will be worthwhile investing time in selecting and learning how to use a tool. This Being Digital activity will help you evaluate which tool might meet your needs.

While the Open University does not endorse a particular product, or provide support for their use, there are several free web-based tools from which to choose. Some are basic tools for undergraduate study. Others are more advanced and suitable for researchers and postgraduate students. The regular OU Live session on Introduction to reference management tools takes you through some of the things to consider when selecting and using reference management tools. For more general guidance on referencing see Referencing and plagiarism.

Basic tools

BibSonomy is a social bookmarking service that enables you to export in a variety of formats and feeds.

RefME is a web-based tool for generating citations, reference lists and bibliographies. It is also available as an App

Delicious is a service designed for personal bookmarking on the web. Websites can be accessed anywhere, no matter what computer or device you are using.

More advanced tools

Colwiz is software that helps to sort, cite and share research.  You can import PDFs and references from the web  to your desktop and mobile devices.

EndNote Basic is entirely web-based and gives you the tools for learning how to do research, cite sources and write your papers. It is a simpler, free version of the commercial tool Endnote Desktop. (Please diregard the 'Sign in via your institutional login' option on the 'Sign In or create an account' page.)

Mendeley is a reference manager and academic social network that is fully searchable with capacity for reading and annotating PDFs on any device.  It is available as web-based or as a standalone desktop version.

Proquest Flow is a cloud-based collaboration tool that allows you to collect, manage and organise your documents. You can also annotate and cite your research.

Zotero is a free bibliographic software extension for Firefox. It is also available as an extension for Chrome and Safari browsers, and as a standalone desktop version.

The Comparison of reference management software produced by Wikipedia has further examples of reference management tools and may also assist you with your decision.

Tools for purchase or subscription

RefWorks is a web-based reference manager that will allow you to save references from online databases, create bibliographies automatically and store files within a reference (up to 5mb each, with a 100mb limit per user).

EndNote is desktop software that can organise, store and manage references, create bibliographies automatically and directly import references from databases (e.g. Web of Science) and library catalogues.

The EndNote 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. If you are not on campus you can purchase EndNote at a discounted rate, remembering to use your OU email address.

Papers is a reference management application that can search a number of databases from within it.  If you want access resources through the OU Library subscriptions, follow the set-up instructions below.

  1. From Papers Preferences choose the Sources tab
  2. Set the authentication url to http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/
  3. Set the Library proxy to http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=%@
  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):

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