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H809 – Bibliographic tool (A4.1)

February 28, 2011

RefWorks is a bibliographic tool to manage and organise references, especially with a view to the first upcoming TMA, but especially for the more extensive EMAs (End-of-module assessment), that normally includes countless of references and if you don’t have any organisation at all, you will search around, not finding your recourses and still in need to get your references right. This costs a lot of time, time that you normally don’t have when it comes to the EMA and especially if you have to  manage two of them 😉

Ok, the advantage is perfectly obvious bibliographic tools have the potential to greatly facilitating our referencing work. The only hitch is if you don’t file your references their accordingly in the appropriate folder you will encounter the same problems as before 😉 They can be great tools, but if you as user do not make us of it accordingly then they are not worth a carat.

Ok, back to the actual task. Here are some extracts I copied from the OU page and the corresponding Help sheet just to give you a brief impression.

‘Scope and content: A Web-based bibliography and database manager that allows you to create your own personal database by importing references from text files or online databases’.

Getting references into RefWorks:

RefWorksThere are several ways to get your references into RefWorks; use the relevant method for the resource you are using:

  • enter references manually into RefWorks
  • save your search results as a text file (.txt) and then import them into RefWorks (fewer databases now offer this option)
  • export references directly into RefWorks from many databases
  • search a library catalogue from within RefWorks, e.g. The British Library and COPAC catalogues.
  • use RefGrab-It to capture web page data


My first impression is positive. It looks like a great tool for organising and managing all kind of references and offers countless of features. I had a start with some of the tutorials which helped me with the basics, like how to get references into RefWork. Finally some organisation in all the references and no extensive searching when it comes to assessments 😉 However, one major limitation which is already highlighted in the module guide is that after finishing H809 we will not longer have access to it and another limitation I see is that it is an individual tool (as far as I know) and you cannot share your references with others like with Delicious or Diijo. I highly appreciate to do tag searches in Delicious and see what other OU colleagues collected to a specific topic, although I have to admit that it does not offer the extensive features that RefWorks offer and it does not really help you much when it comes to references.

For my last ECA or EMAs I immediately started an own word file where I wrote down the whole reference and when I accessed it and after reading the source I wrote down a short summary. This procedure, thus extensive helped me a lot. Besides that I normally use Zotero, which is freely available and which offers good features as well, and helps a lot to organize your sources and your references and you still keep the bibliographic tool after finishing H809.

Here is a statement from their page and it looks like they added the share option.

‘Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.’




What I haven’t done so far is to look ahead to TMA01 and think what references I will need for it. Well, I start of thinking about a possible empirical research question based on a current issue in educational technology, but the whole TMA is still pretty vague to me and I definitely need more information. Especially the rationale is quite unclear. We are asked to use the research literature to help explain why my hypothetic research questions deserves to be researched. Well, because their might be not enough information out there on this topic. I guess that definitely needs some thorough consideration :-8


Zotero (2011) Zotero Home [online]. Available from: (accessed 28.02.2011).

From → H807

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