Freely available reference management tools – some pros and cons

Citing and referencing correctly in most cases is not difficult – it just requires a bit of careful attention to detail, which can be time consuming and when your deadline is looming time is not always on your side. This is where using a reference management tool can help, enabling you to generate correctly formatted bibliographies (reference lists) in a quick and intuitive way. Here is a brief overview of a couple that are freely available online.

The tools
Cite this for me – available at: https://www.citethisforme.com
RefMe – available at: https://www.refme.com/

What they do:
These tools provide templates for a range of resource types (for example: books, journal articles, websites and many more), which you can use to either automatically import or manually input the details of the resources that you want to cite and reference in your assignment. When you have added all the resources you are using in your assignment you can generate a correctly formatted bibliography simply by choosing the referencing style you require, for example: Harvard – Cite Them Right, from the style menu. You can then copy and paste or export the bibliography to a Word document. These tools also show you how your in-text citations should look in your chosen referencing style, and allow you to copy and paste these into your assignment too.

The Pros and Cons
Cite this for me
cite this for me logoPros
+ Very intuitive layout with clearly labelled functions so getting started is quick and easy.
+ No need to register for an account – your bibliography remains available for 7 days from when you first create it as long as you use the same computer and internet browser.
+ You can share your bibliography with a group if you are collaborating on a project.
Cons
– The ‘Autocite’ feature available for books, journal articles and websites will sometimes miss key details needed to correctly reference sources imported this way, for this reason it is best to always choose the ‘Add manually’ option when adding your references.
– To access full functionality requires an account, which you would need to pay for.
– Without an account you can only create one bibliography at a time.

RefME
RefME logoPros
+ You can work on multiple projects at once, and copy/move references between different projects.
+ You can access your projects from anywhere that you can log-in to your account.
+ You can share your bibliography with a group if you are collaborating on a project.
Cons
– The automatic import function is fairly reliable, however, you should always check that the required details are all present and correct, and manually edit the reference if necessary. Be particularly careful with websites and books.
– You can’t use RefMe without registering for an account, but accounts are free and quick to set up.
– The interface is quite minimal, so you will need to spend a little time exploring where different functions are, but there are on-screen tips to help when you are getting started and once you know your way around it is easy to use.

Summary
Both these tools have the potential to save you time when it comes to completing the citing and referencing in your assignments, leaving you more time to focus on writing your assignment. The University also subscribes to a reference management tool called RefWorks, on and offsite access requires a SGUL username and password. RefWorks is not as intuitive as these online tools but does offer additional functions that are particularly useful if you are undertaking longer pieces of written work. Links to all these resources are now provided on the Library’s Reference Management page.

*Top tip! Before you submit your work, always check your citations and references are correctly formatted according to the standards used at St George’s – guides and helpsheets are available on the Library’s Help pages. *

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