On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Thing 14: Organizing references . . . the bane of my existence

Citing and organizing both small and large reference lists and bibliographies can be daunting.

I first learned Endnote while completing the M.L.I.S. program at the University of Western (Newly rebranded as Western University). After a few one-on-one sessions with a librarian, I felt very comfortable using this product. So comfortable was I with my level of moderate competency that during a co-op placement at the University of Lethbridge, I contributed to a number of workshops as a supporting instructor. From that perspective I better understood the power of the tool, shortfalls, and precisely how steep the learning curve could be for researchers and librarians.

RefWorks is similar in interface, functionality, and ease of use to EndNote. I found that group work, collaboration, and sharing either just a few references or an entire database were useful functions found in both RefWorks and Endnote. RefWorks and EndNote have features providing for quick and easy ways to create and distribute links to online reading lists, syllabi, and bibliographies. The decision to use one or the other is determined by licensing at the institution for which I am working.

Scholars Portal has produced a terrific LibGuide on RefWorks.

Australian Catholic University has created a comprehensive LibGuide on EndNote.

Online citation software is far more challenging but increasing in use among undergraduate students in my experience. During information literacy instruction sessions where citation styles are taught, I find students have already sussed out an online citation generator and they invariably have that program open and in use during a session.

These are among the most popular I have seen used by students to date:

For a reasonable comparison of citation building programs and sites, see Mendeley – Mendeley produced this chart so yes, there is a bias.

Key transliteracy skills that come to bear when considering the use of online citation builders include cross-platform considerations, citation styles supported, format accuracy, scope of feature functionality, and transferability. However, students seem driven to circumvent even the most basic critical evaluation of a citation generated by these online programs and of the program itself. When asked why a particular citation generator is used, invariably the students respond with a chuckled quip that it was fast, they didn’t have to think about the citation format nor understand why citation was important, and it was good enough for the paper they were writing because they believed their instructor would not check for details.  Harumph.  These responses are quite unsatisfactory from college or university students whom we hope are beginning to think critically about information, sources, and the use of such programs.

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This entry was posted on 10/24/2011 by in Competency, Instruction, Professional Development, Transliteracy and tagged .
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