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How to manage your references

Page history last edited by Elaine Shallcross 10 years, 3 months ago

Summary: as you begin to gather information from your searches on the library catalogue and databases you will need to think about how to save the details of references you intend to cite in your assignments, dissertations or research papers. One method is to record the bibliographic details of each reference either manually on index cards or electronically on a spreadsheet. Alternatively, you may consider using our reference management software, RefWorks. You will use either method to create a bibliography of references at the end of your piece of work.


IMPORTANT NOTE FOR LAW STUDENTS: RefWorks does not work very well with the legal style OSCOLA. Law students required to use this style are advised not to use RefWorks at this time. The following guides on the citation of legal authorities are available from these links:

OSCOLA Guide 4th ed., Hart 2012 and online tutorial from Oxford Law

OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law (not included in OSCOLA Guide 4th ed.)

QG LAW024 OSCOLA (Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities) - A Quick Guide

QG LAW007 Citation of Legal Authorities by Nicola Will, Site Services Manager, Taylor Library, University of Aberdeen



RefWorks is web-based bibliographic management software that is available, free of charge, to members of the University. It allows you to store and manage the references found by your searches across databases, and to create formatted bibliographies and papers. You will have to invest at least 2 hours of your time in teaching yourself how to use all the main functions of RefWorks but, for an important piece of working containing a large number of references, the time invested will be worth it.


Guides and help on how to manage your references are available at the end of this section.


Under normal circumstances you would be able to sign up for library skills practical workshops on RefWorks but, at this time, you will have to work through the guides and worksheets provided via the links on this page, or follow the online tutorial available on the RefWorks website. To get started follow the steps below:


STEP 1 IMPORTANT: Before you do anything in RefWorks you must set up your personal computer to work properly with databases from off campus. If you haven't already done so please follow instructions on how to set up off campus access to electroninc materials.

STEP 2: If you are a new user, go to the RefWorks login page. Click on the link Sign up for an Individual Account to register an account (it's free of charge) so that you can begin to import references from your searches on databases.

STEP 3: Read though the RefWorks Part 1 worksheet which is available via this link. Create some folders in RefWorks so that you easily find your references. Make sure you know the 4 main methods of bringing references into your account:

  1. one-step import, e.g. Scopus, Medline, Web of Knowledge / Web of Science
  2. two-step import, e.g. IEEE Xplore
  3. manual input, e.g. Westlaw
  4. search the library catalogue via RefWorks (Search menu > Online Catalog)

STEP 4: Go to your favourite databases, or use Primo to identify and link out to relevant databases, and begin your searches for information. As you find journal articles, conference papers etc. you wish to refer to in your work, mark each record (by using the tick-box provided) and follow the instructions in the RefWorks Import Methods worksheet on how to import references into your RefWorks account.

If your are unsure what method to use to import references from a particular database refer to an online guide available at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/library/guides/rfw/importing.doc. A worksheet on the basics of using RefWorks is available on this website.

STEP 5: Before you start writing up your work read the RefWorks Part 2 worksheet and decide whether the Write-N-Cite function available in RefWorks is useful to you. If it is, you must download the appropriate W-N-C plugin for your operating system (Windows or Mac).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Windows users are advised not to download the latest version of WNC. Instead, login to your RefWorks account> open the Tools menu > Write-N-Cite > Windows Previous Versions link > Write_n-Cite III.


Guides and help on how to manage your references

Information guide: RefWorks - a Quick Guide

Information guide: Guide to Referencing and Citing

OSCOLA Guide 4th ed., Hart 2012 - available under Creative Commons License from the Oxford Law Faculty and the OSCOLA Editorial Advisory Board

OSCOLA 2006: Citing International Law (not included in OSCOLA Guide 4th ed.)

Information guide (for Law students): Citation of Legal Authorities

Worksheets: How to use RefWorks (Parts 1 and 2) are available in the Worksheets folder in the Pages & Files section of this wiki

Web page: Other guides to using RefWorks (attaching documents; footnotes etc.)

Web page: Instructions for Importing Records from Information Databases into RefWorks

Web page: Setting up proxy server access


Help and advice

Information Consultants for your subject area: contact details online here.

IT Service Desk: servicedesk@abdn.ac.uk; tel. +44 (0)1224-273636

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