Being a part-time student again has given me a renewed appreciation of the myriad demands on students including class, assignments, bureaucratic hurdles, work and trying to have a life. Have I been the guy who has either just skimmed or not done the readings before class? Guilty.
The amount of reading required and articles to keep track of has made me a convert to RefWorks, a web-based bibliography and reference manager. I saw the light after having been the guy scrambling to get a bibliography assembled and properly formatted for a paper at the last minute.
RefWorks can help make life a bit easier for students by helping to gather and organize references for papers with the ability to export a bibliography in a plethora of different styles from APA to MLA to Chicago and beyond. As a student, I can generate an appropriately formatted bibliography for a paper quickly and easily. It could also be handy for Profs and researchers submitting articles to journals since it can export references in the appropriate format for an abundance of journals. If a bibliography has been generated and there are other references to add that aren’t in RefWorks, no problem — they can either be added to RefWorks quickly or they can be added to the bibliography manually.
References can be imported from journal searches, from RSS feeds, other citation software (e.g. Endnote). They can also be sorted and searched and customized fields can be used (e.g. your own keywords or summary which can be useful for a thesis). RefWorks can also help sharing references…think of group projects or upper year courses or graduate courses where sharing findings can help spur collaboration, new connections and creativity. Indeed, there is one course i know of that used RefWorks to create a collaborative bibliography generated by students.
How about making the bibliography of course readings available for students in RefWorks in addition to the course outline? Not only does it provide bibiliographic information, but also direct links to the articles to which UW has online access. Furthermore students could import some or all references into their own list and modify as desired. Profs could update easily from year to year as well and export in various formats as necessary.
I’m still relatively new to RefWorks and figuring out what can be done, but I see lots of potential for students, researchers and Profs to use it effectively.
RefWorks is available FREE for UWaterloo students, staff, faculty, and alumni and the good folks at the Library are very helpful if you have problems. For more information click here.
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