Referencing headaches? Online tools can help – info tip

Laptop, book and glassesDo you struggle with referencing? Have you been marked down for incomplete or inconsistent references? There are some online tools that can help!

Why use online referencing tools?

  1. You can use them to store accurate details of publications to use in your assignments.
  2. They can save you time compiling, checking and correcting references – just insert the citation and a bibliography is created automatically. You can also reformat your citations in a different style at the click of a button.
  3. You can add notes to your references, to remind yourself of specific parts you might want to use.
  4. Some allow you to store PDFs of the sources with your references, so that everything is together and in most cases available on any computer.

If you use an online tool you still need to know when to include a citation, and understand the principles of referencing. You can find help on this in Study Advice’s referencing guide or referencing video tutorials. You also need to be aware of which style your department requires you to use – consult your course handbook for details.

Which one should I use?

If you are an undergraduate or masters student…

… we recommend using EndNote online. This is free to use and you can use it both on campus PCs and your own PC or laptop.

You can get accurate reference details into it from Library catalogues such as Enterprise and Summon, databases such as Web of Science, or you can manually create your own references for web pages. If you’re not sure whether your preferred database supports EndNote, check our database A-Z list for details of the individual resource.

EndNote online also works with Microsoft Word – you can install a free toolbar which helps you automatically create both in-text citations and your full bibliography. You can choose from a list of common referencing styles (including the University’s own ‘Harvard for Reading’ style) to format your bibliography.

EndNote online is fully supported by the Library and we can provide 1-1 help.

To get started, come along to a workshop, try our step-by-step guide to using EndNote online, or watch an introductory video.

If you are a research postgraduate or member of staff…

… we recommend using Desktop EndNote. This is available on any campus PC through Apps Anywhere. A personal copy can be purchased at the discounted price of around £98.

References can be easily captured from many databases, and you can use the ‘Find full-text’ feature to automatically attach article PDFs to those references. A very large number of referencing styles are provided, including those for specific journals. You can download other ones from the EndNote website, or create your own by editing existing styles. It is also possible to share your EndNote library by synchronising with an EndNote online account – useful for collaboration.

Find out more by coming along to a workshop, trying our step-by-step guides, or watching a brief introductory video.

Other options

There are a number of other referencing tools available, including Mendeley, Zotero and Word’s own referencing facility. Although we do not provide support for these, we have provided links to online guidance and videos via our managing references guide.

Help

If you need help with using EndNote, or with any aspect of citing references, contact your subject liaison librarian who will be happy to help.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager & Liaison Librarian, and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian.

Cite it right – and avoid unintentional plagiarism! – info tip

You may think that advice on avoiding plagiarism doesn’t apply to you, because you’re not planning to buy an essay from the internet, or copy someone else’s work. But you may not be aware that it is possible to plagiarise unintentionally if:

  • you’re not aware of the differences between referencing at university and any referencing you may have been used to doing previously;
  • you haven’t been meticulous about keeping records of your reading;
  • you don’t know how to use references in your academic writing to support your discussion and critical analysis.

It’s important to take referencing seriously and not just guess, or assume that you know how to do it. The consequences can be serious with marks deducted – it can even lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

However, it can be confusing when you have advice and guidance on referencing from so many different sources. It’s tempting to just Google it! But that’s far less likely to give you the right answer than guidance produced at your own university. You should always check your own Course Handbook first for advice (it will be on Blackboard).

Our Citing References guide combines previous guidance from the Library and Study Advice to cover the why, what, when and how of referencing in a single place. Study Advice video tutorials on referencing are embedded in the guide, which includes:

You could also look at The Academic Integrity Toolkit, which shows how understanding referencing is an important part of studying at university and ‘becoming a graduate’ generally. The Toolkit includes tips, explanations and exercises (with answers) to help you develop your understanding of essential skills including:

If you’re a Part 1 undergraduate and have enrolled on Study Smart, you could also go back over the relevant guidance in Week 1.

The guidance below focuses on three important points to help you avoid unintentional plagiarism.

References in a footnote1.Know when to include a reference

Whenever you include an idea that you have gained from your reading in an assignment, you must ensure that you reference it correctly, both in the text and at the end in your reference list or bibliography. If you use the original words you have found in your reading, you must mark them with quotation marks, even if you only use part of the sentence. It is not enough to give the details of where the words came from; they must be marked out, or it will look as if you are claiming them as your own words. If you are writing the idea up in your own words, don’t be tempted to just change a few words. If you use quotations inadequately or paraphrase badly it will certainly be viewed as poor academic practice and may subject your work to penalties. It may even be seen as plagiarism.

Watch this brief video tutorial on using paraphrases.

See Library and Study Advice guidance on using quotes and paraphrases.

2. Develop good note-taking practices

Ever looked at your notes and thought, “I wonder where that came from?” or “I wonder if those are my words or copied from the text?” It’s frustrating when you can’t be sure – but it could cause you problems if you use the material without being able to reference it accurately. To avoid this, make it a habit to have good record-keeping practices. Always note the details of each text you use (author, title, year) when you start writing notes on your reading; include page numbers as you go along, even if you are not copying text directly but writing the ideas in your own words; have a system of markers to indicate if something is a quote (put in quotation marks), an idea explained in your own words, or a query or new idea stemming from what you’re read (perhaps an asterisk *). The Study Advisers have guidance on effective note-taking and a brief video tutorial on critical note-taking with more suggestions.

If you’re using an e-book, you may be able to make notes electronically as you’re reading the text. See the section in our LibGuide on Studying with e-books for more information. If you have an online reading list, you can also make brief notes on this – our LibGuide page on What else can I do with my list? has details.

You might also consider using reference management software to keep details of your reading including all the bibliographic information. EndNote online is a basic tool that works with Word to add citations to your written work and constructs a bibliography at the end. It is free too.  If you have a large number of references to manage you might choose the more sophisticated Desktop EndNote. For advice on which version to use, and for self-paced training guides on EndNote, or book a place on a training workshop, see the Library’s web pages.

3. Know what to do if you can’t find all the details of a reference

bibliographic details screencast screencapIf you have a quote but don’t know where it came from, try typing it into Google. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than the whole quote; try to find a grouping of words that is less common. If you have some details of the text, you could try looking at your reading list or searching the Library catalogue. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed. If you have the author and title of a journal article or even just the title of the journal and a date it may be possible to find the complete reference in Summon or one of the Library’s databases. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your assignment if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on how to find bibliographic details.

Need more help?

If you’re still confused, or you have a specific question about referencing that isn’t answered in our guide, you can always contact your Liaison Librarian or the Study Advice team to discuss this in person. Just remember to do it in plenty of time – the day your assignment is due to be submitted is not ideal!

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Dr Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian.

Polishing up your Masters dissertation – info tip

Student studyingAs you get into the last few weeks of work on your Masters dissertation or major project, it should all be coming together. This info tip aims to give you the tools to get everything done in time – and make your dissertation a shining success!

Editing, proof-reading and referencing

At this stage, you should be starting to think about editing and proof-reading. It’s best not to leave this till the last minute as it’s rarely just a matter of checking your spelling. There may be missing citation details to find, arguments that would be better placed elsewhere, repetition to remove, and word count to reduce. All these things take more time than you think.

Study Advice have a guide on writing at Masters’ level which will help you to see what you need to aim at when editing your writing. There is also a guide on academic writing including tips for more effective proof-reading. If you have five minutes, you could watch one of their video tutorials on dissertations.

It can make a real difference to your mark to make sure your citations are all correct, complete and consistent. This can be a slow process so allow plenty of time. There is information about different referencing styles and how to reference more unusual sources in our Citing References guide. You could also look at the Study Advisers’ video tutorials on referencing. If you’re still not sure, ask your Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

Incomplete reference? What to do?

You may find you have a key piece of information, but not all the details you need for your bibliography. If you have some information, it still may be possible to find the complete reference.

For a journal article, try Summon or one of the Library’s databases; for a book, try checking your reading list, searching the Library catalogue, or a database specialising in books such as Worldcat or Copac. Ask at a Library Information Desk for help. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed over the last 6 months.

If you want to use a direct quote from your reading but don’t know where it came from, try typing it into Google, framed with quotation marks e.g. “the City’s collusion with slavery”. Google will then search for the exact quotation. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than a longer quote; try to find a grouping of words that stands out. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your dissertation if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on how to find bibliographic details.

Get the edge with up-to-date information

The best dissertations include the most up-to-date research so, if you have time, you can check for recent publications that you may have missed in your literature review. Many databases allow you to re-run your search for an author or on a topic to find only the most recent items.

For example, Web of Science allows you to save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to its databases. You can also set up feeds and citation alerts so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles. Watch the saving your search and setting email alerts video for detailed instructions on how to do this.

This service isn’t only available in the sciences, however – you can set up alerts in services such as BrowZine to find the latest articles across all disciplines and subjects. Most databases will have this function available, but each one will work slightly differently. If you want to set up alerts for a particular database but aren’t sure how, get in touch with your Liaison Librarian.Female student writing

For more, see our further tips on keeping up to date.

Staying motivated

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get to the finishing line, and it’s easy to underestimate how long the finishing touches may take. Breaking your remaining tasks down and setting deadlines to get each ticked off can help. You might turn these into a Gantt chart and pin it up on your wall, so you can see your targets at a glance. Study Advice have some further suggestions on staying motivated.

Layout and binding

Find out ahead of time what is expected in terms of layout and binding and you are likely to save yourself from last-minute panic. The Study Advice website has some general principles on finishing up. More specific information should be in your course or module handbook. It may also be possible to look at past dissertations in your department to see how they have laid out their work: ask your tutor.

You do not need to hard bind your work, but if you choose to do so, do be aware that you will have to leave considerably more time. The Library have teamed up with experienced university binders Hollingsworth & Moss to offer a hard and soft bound printing and binding service.

Acceptable binding styles include thermal binding with a hard or soft cover, spiral and comb binding. These can be done at many print shops with a little notice, including Mail Boxes Etc in the RUSU building on Whiteknights campus.

If you have any last-minute queries, you can always come and ask your Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian for Chemistry and Pharmacy.

Citing references made easy with EndNote Web – info tip

Laptop, book and glassesAre you starting your dissertation? Do you lack confidence citing references in your work? Have you been marked down for inconsistencies in your bibliography?

EndNote Web can help!

What is EndNote Web?

EndNote Web is a free online service you can use to:

  • store and organise useful references you find whilst researching topics
  • insert references in your Word document
  • automatically build and format your bibliography in a style of your choosing

It’s perfect for undergraduates and Masters students as it is a cut-down version of the Desktop EndNote program used by researchers.

How do I use it?

EndNote Web is freely available, but University members can access an enhanced version as part of the Library’s subscription to the Web of Science database. You can use it on both PCs and Macs.

Log in to the Web of Science, click ‘EndNote’ in the top menu and sign up for an account. Once registered you can use it both on- and off-campus.

How do I get references into my EndNote Web library?

You can manually type in details of useful books and articles you have found, but there are quicker methods to download multiple references from databases and the Library catalogue.

Direct export

This method is available on the Web of Science and all of the Ebsco databases (including Business Source Complete). Just search the database for your topic and select save/export to EndNote Web.

Import

For most other databases you can save a file of references and import them into EndNote Web. To find out how to do this on your preferred databases, check our database A-Z list – this has information on how each one works with EndNote Web. If you need advice, contact your subject liaison librarian.

Online Search

You can use the Online Search facility within EndNote Web to get book references from our catalogue, Enterprise, into your library.

Writing your essay or dissertation

Once you have references in your EndNote Web library you can insert them into your Word document as you write your essay or dissertation. Word’s Cite While You Write toolbar allows you to search your library for the reference you want to insert and it will automatically put the citation in the text and build the bibliography at the end of your document. This toolbar is installed on all campus PCs and is free to download onto your own device.

You can select from a number of referencing styles (Numbered, APA, MHRA etc.) or use the customised Harvard for Reading style. This meets the requirements of many of the science and life science departments at the University. If you need to change your style, all of your citations and references will be reformatted automatically – no more rewriting your references at the last minute!

Getting help

Our guide to getting started with EndNote Web (PDF) will take you through all the steps involved in creating your EndNote Web account, getting references into your library and using it with Word to write your essays or dissertation. You can also view EndNote Web videos produced by Thomson Reuters, the suppliers of EndNote Web.

Alternatively, contact your subject liaison librarian for individual help and support.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding information

This tip was written by Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager and Liaison Librarian and Caitlin McCulloch, Trainee Liaison Librarian.