Smarter searching with library databases
Thursday, 27 July, 2023 - 19:30
Learn how to access library databases, take advantage of the functionality they offer, and devise a proper search technique.
Your gateway to a wide range of online information resources
TRAINER: Hello. Welcome to this library session, Reference Management Tools - an Introduction. My name is Ute and I am a Learning and Teaching Librarian at the Open University. The learning outcomes for this session are that you will, by the end of it, understand how reference management tools work, that you know the benefits and risks of using these tools, and that you will also understand how the tools work with library resources.
This session is very much about introducing what reference management tools do, not about the details of any one particular tool. It's particularly useful for level three and post-graduate students who may be managing lots of references. There are different ways of managing references. You can see some of them mentioned on this slide, how you can store articles, for example, how you can store books you've read for your assignment. You can, for example, use a card file, Word documents are frequently used, you could use an Excel spreadsheet, and then, of course, you could choose to use a reference management tool.
Think for a moment about how you manage your references and whether the way you are managing them is effective, whether it really works for you. There isn't one way that is best, it really depends on what you get on with best. It's an individual thing as well what you want to use to manage your references and also what your actual needs are for a particular piece of work or an assignment. If you are at level one or two and you're not using many references, the Word document or card file is probably fine. However, if you are using more than a few references for your assignments, then you might want to consider using a tool specifically for managing references.
In this session, we are going to look at tools which manage your references online. These are usually called reference or bibliographic management tools. It can take an hour or two to get really used to one, so you need to invest a bit of time to get to know it properly.
What do reference management tools actually do? When you are using these tools, you can collect all the references you are using or have considered using in one place. Some tools also allow you to store PDFs of articles and you can annotate them, and within the tools, you can manage your references by collecting them into folders. For example, TMA01 or you can tag them with keywords so you can see which ones may relate to others, and you can add notes and good quotes. Some tools also work with Word, so you can use them to insert in-text citations and reference lists or create instant bibliographies.
There are many freely available tools on the web. They are not supported by the OU, and this is just a small selection of the best known ones. On this slide, you can see Mendeley, Zotero, EndNote basic, which are all sophisticated tools which work with Word documents. EndNote desktop can be purchased at a discount for OU students via Clarivate, but it's considered the Rolls-Royce of these kinds of tools. It's really suitable for PhD students and academics engaged in research. It's not really suitable for undergraduates or even Master students. Papers is software which can be used on Apple products, and again, needs to be purchased.
There are also citation generators. These are online tools that can store your references and generate in-text citations and reference lists but don't work with Word. They're not quite so complicated, so may be a good solution if you want something a bit simpler. I'm now going to show you how to use one of these tools. I'm now going to share my screen and you should now be seeing my screen with the MyBib line at the top. This is one of the citation generators.
What I'm doing now is how I add a reference to a webpage from The Conversation to this particular tool. To generate a reference for a resource using MyBib, I would first click on the plus add reference button at the top. Now I select the resource that I'm referencing by clicking on the relevant tab. In this case, I want to add a website. I will make sure that the tab website is highlighted. I can see that it is already highlighted, and now I can type or paste the URL of my article into the search bar.
I then click on Search. Now the tool has recognized the URL and has returned a result with all the basic details that you would need to reference this page. I then click on the result. Now I'm prompted to add the publication date as MyBib hasn't recognized that. That happens sometimes with some resources, not always. It asks me the question, "Does it have a date published?" I click on, "Yes, it does," in answer to that question. Now I'm typing in the date that the website displays, which is for the year 2022, for the month 07 for July, and then 25 for the 25th of that month. Then I click next.
This opens now a new window with different fields that contain the details of my resource that the tool has found. You can add or change details if you think the details are incomplete or incorrect. I'm now happy with the resource details as they are, so I will click on 'save'. This has now generated a reference. You need to make sure that you set the citation generator to the correct referencing output style. You can do this by clicking onto the button which is between the import and the share button at the top of the MyBib screen.
There is usually a letter A and a tick box. If I wanted to change the style, this one already says Cite Them Right 11th edition, but if it didn't, I would just type in Cite Them Right, which is what most of your modules ask you to use. Then click on 11th edition Harvard, then click on 'save'. Now it will display my references in the Cite Them Right Harvard style.
You can now copy this individual reference or you can wait until you've created a few and copy them in bulk. To copy this reference, you select the tick box to the side of it. Then select the icon that looks like some lines of writing above it. This means that you are now copying a selected bibliographic entry and it will now prompt you whether you want to copy it into Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or somewhere else, and you can then paste it in there. I'm just going to come back now to the slides and stop the screen share. What you can do now is that you briefly pause this recording in a moment and try to actually find two resources on either MyBib, which I've just shown you, or another citation generator called ZoteroBib, which is quite straightforward to use, and see whether you can produce a reference on one of them for either the book which has that ISBN which is written on that slide, or the DOI, which is also presented on that slide.
Just try and do so and remember that you need to select the book and journal tabs respectively on MyBib to generate the book and article references and that you might also need to change the reference style to Cite Them Right 11th edition Harvard in the way I've shown you before.
Now we are going to see how you can get references into an actual reference management tool. For this example, I'm going to be using Mendeley. Most tools allow references to be added both automatically and manually. If you're adding the details manually, then you do need to be really careful to ensure that you get all of the details absolutely correct. However, if you're finding many resources, it would be better to use one of the automated ways of importing references such as via the OU Library website or database, by using a browser extension, by importing a file such as a PDF file, or by importing an RIS file.
We now look at how you can do this. I'm going to share my screen again and demonstrate it to you. Here you see the bibliographic management page. You get to this bibliographic management page by clicking on the Help and Support tab, and then it's one of those links which you can click on. If I'm scrolling down a little bit further, what I see is an activity which allows you to select a reference management tool. It's called selecting a reference management tool and it allows you to make an informed decision on which tool is most suited for your purposes.
You can also find links here to guides for the main tools if we're going further down on that page. You can see videos and there are also links to further support. I'm now going to the library homepage. That's the library homepage, and I'm now going to run a search on unicorn and mythology. I'm having a quick look at my results. If you're not already signed in to Library Search, do sign in because that allows you to see all the relevant results and you could also save some of them to Library Search if you wanted to.
I can see some which look quite relevant. I'm clicking into one of them called the Association of the Lady and the Unicorn and the Hunting Mythology of the Caucusus. I'm clicking on the title. Now I have an option to export this article by exporting it as an RIS file. Just to explain, an RIS file is a file that can be read by any of the reference management tools. If you click on the export RIS, which I'm doing now, it will open a download link. It says download here, ignore the encoding box. When I click on it, it's going to save it somewhere on my computer, often by default in the download section. Now we can go to the reference management tool and import that RIS file that we've just saved.
We can also export multiple RIS files at one time, if we wanted to, from our Favourites on Library Search. If you want to know more about how to use the Favourites area, then please watch the recording of our training session using Library Search for your Assignment. Before I go into importing the RIS file into a tool, though, I just want to quickly show you what the RIS file looks like.
I've opened this now with Notepad and you can now see that it shows you different codes and they basically stand for different types of information. For example, AU ss the author, it says Hunt, David, and you have more information like that, like T1, that is the title of the article. You don't normally see this as it just glides seamlessly from the database into your reference management tool, but it's interesting to see what happens behind the scene sometimes.
I'm now showing you my Mendeley desktop. Now I have got already quite a few different resources in here in My Library, but there is always room for more. If I wanted to now important things like the article, I have different options. First of all, I want to point out that you can also create collections here. On the left-hand side, for example, you could have one under the name of a particular TMA. Then you have all the references which are relevant to that assignment in there. You can also create groups.
Now, for my actual article, I could click on 'add new' and then click on files from computer and import it that way. It does give me the option to do it manually, but that's not necessary, or I can also basically drag that RIS file with my article into My Library, which is what I'm actually showing you how to do it. I'm now dragging my article into this main area of the screen and it's uploading my file now. Right at the top, it has now added it. You can see it at the top.
Now I'm going to click into that just imported reference, and it opens a window on the right-hand side which has all the details of that article on there, like the title, the publication details, basically, ISSN as well. Here you can make annotations and it just gives you lots and lots of information, basically. You can see that here as well. What I would say now is that I want to show you also how to import not just an article by using an RIS file from our library, but also how you can do it by using a browser extension. That is another way of importing a reference into a ref man tool. I'm now going back to Library Search and go back to our search and then I'm going to find another article which looks fairly useful. For example, that one might be quite interesting. Peter Beagle's Transformation of the Mythic Unicorn.
What I can do again is I can click into the title, I get that page which tells me a lot more about the actual resource. Now I've got my browser extension next to my URL bar for Mendeley. You have to have that installed first. Click on that one and then it should find this particular article, I'm hoping so at least. We can just check whether it's found it. I'm just scrolling through that. It has recognized it as a web page rather than as an article.
In this particular case, you would probably want to change that later on, but for the moment, I would just click on that resource and then click on 'Add'. Now what it should have done is that it should have actually imported this into Mendeley. I'm going back to Mendeley and just check whether it's there. Indeed it has imported it. However, because it has imported it as a web page, I click into the line of that resource and then can make changes if I want to.
For example, on the dropdown, I will change web page to journal article and then I can add all the missing information and change the information which is incorrect. Always check if you are importing something, whether it's imported in the correct format and whether all the information is actually there. We have now also looked at how to use a browser extension and now I want to show you how you can import PDFs. If I wanted to import a PDF, I tend to have that somewhere on my computer.
I'm finding a PDF which I want to import. Then here, for example, I've just grabbed one. Then I'm going to pull that into the main part of the screen and then just drop it there. Now the file is being uploaded and it comes up right at the top. You can see it has automatically generated a record of the details. Again, you will have to click into it and check it and possibly amend it if it's not accurate or something has been missed out.
Once you have your sources in the tool and before you begin using it in your assignments, you do need to make sure that it will be producing references and citations in the correct format. Some tools will allow you to do this in the reference manager itself and some like Mendeley need you to install a plugin into your Word processor before you can change the automatic style.
I'll be talking about plug-ins in a little while. If you don't want to install a plug-in, you can copy the references in the format that the tool automatically uses and then edit them. In this tool, I will do this by right-clicking on a source. Let's right-click, for example, on the Hunt source, and here. I've right-clicked, and then I get the option copy formatted citation. If I click on this, it would give me the option to then go into Word and paste it in. I can then look into the reference style guide that I'm using and manually edit the reference to match. I'm just going to share my screen share now and come back to the slides.
That was quite a bit of demoing. I just want to briefly recap this, how to add references to your reference management tool. You've seen you can add references manually or by using RIS files or by using your browser plug-in. I've shown you how to download RIS files from Library Search, but you can also directly download them from the content platforms. It's very important as I've emphasized throughout my demo to check any automatically added references for completeness and accuracy. You need to make sure you select the right referencing style for the created references, for example, CTR Harvard.
Now a quick word of caution. If you have invested a lot of time in your reference management tool, you should think of taking a backup every now and then. The main tools allow you to do this. They are backed by large organizations, so are unlikely to disappear overnight, but better to be safe. Citation generators are more likely to come and go so it's even more important to not store your references in them.
As I mentioned earlier, the automatic import of information in these tools is only as good as the information that suppliers put onto their websites and onto Library Search. If the information is incorrect or incomplete, then the generated reference will be incorrect. This slide shows an example of possible mistakes in importing an article. You can have a quick think now about what you think is wrong or missing in this reference. It is an article, and from previous referencing, you will probably notice that this is not correct.
I show you here what the correct reference would be in CTR Harvard. Basically, it's wrong to capitalize the surname of the author, and what has been missing is the journal title, the volume and issue number, and the page numbers. Now I'm moving on to using reference management tools when it comes to actually writing your assignments in Microsoft Word. Word does come with its own integrated referencing tool although it very limited. It doesn't have Cite Them Right Harvard as an option. Every reference would need to be edited, and you can't manage sources into folders. You also have to add the details of your sources manually, but it is an option if all you need is something really basic.
For other tools like Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote, you can add a plug-in into Word, that will integrate the tool seamlessly. All the tools I've mentioned today help you with referencing by allowing you to insert citations in the correct format and will automatically create references and reference lists from the sources that you have added citations for in your selected referencing style. The external tools will also let you insert a bibliography if needed, but this is not something that most modules will ask for. It's more a thing for postgraduate students.
I'm not going to be going over this slide in detail, but if you wanted to download these slides at the end of the session, then the links here will take you straight to the section of the help for each tool that will guide you on installing and using the plug-in for your chosen tool. You can just think a little bit about whether you think it will be useful to you now in your circumstances with your types of assignments to use a reference management tool.
If you want to follow up this session with further activities, these two activities on selecting a reference management tool and collecting references from library resources are linked to from the page where you found this tutorial. I'm going to briefly revisit our learning outcomes now. You will now be able to understand how reference management tools work. You will also know the benefits and risks of using these tools and understand how the tools work with library resources.
You can find more detailed information on the Bibliographic Management page as well as the activity about choosing a tool. The library does not provide ongoing support for installing and using these tools. The links provided on the Bibliographic Management page are the main help for the tools, and students should go there and not the library help desk. This brings me to the end of this training session and recording and I hope it's been useful. You give it a think of whether you might want to use one of these tools in the future. Thank you very much for watching this recording. Goodbye.
Thursday, 27 July, 2023 - 19:30
Learn how to access library databases, take advantage of the functionality they offer, and devise a proper search technique.