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Why you need reference management tools

October 4, 2017 — 

The following article is published as part of the Academic Integrity Initiative, featuring the writing of University of Manitoba faculty, staff and students.

October is Academic Integrity Month! Visit our website for more information on events, and follow us on Twitter

Do you love typing and formatting reference lists? Do want to spend all of your time collecting, organizing, and tracking down your references? Of course not, life is too short!

Reference management tools can free you from that drudgery.

With reference managers, you can:

  • Import references from databases and websites
  • Store PDF files
  • Organize references in folders
  • Share folders for group work
  • Automatically generate reference lists and bibliographies in a variety of reference styles (e.g. APA, MLA, IEEE, Chicago, AMA, etc.)
  • Retrieve information used in your work

But that’s not all!

Reference managers can be:

  • Cloud based
  • Mobile
  • Platform independent
  • Free, but additional features may cost extra
  • Integrated into word processors (e.g. MS Word, Pages)

Things to think about when selecting a reference manager:

  • Your technology (desktop, laptop, mobile devices)
  • Technological skill level
  • Discipline preferences for reference management and reference style (APA, etc.)
  • Group work and sharing needs
  • Operating systems
  • Export file formats
  • Import file formats
  • Database and website connectivity

The most widely used reference managers at the U of M are:

Your Subject Librarian can help you decide on the right reference management tool for your needs.

You can also attend one of many reference management workshops offered by the Libraries during Academic Integrity Month and throughout the year.

Katherine Penner is Acting Section Head of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Music Library and Bill Poluha is Associate Librarian of the Sciences & Technology Library.


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