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Reference management

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Reference management practical guide

Our practical guide to reference management covers the key concepts for each stage of the process when using reference management software and how to use features in EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, and Paperpile to effectively collect, organise, cite, and share your references.

You can refer to the guide with specific questions, or work through the whole guide with suggested exercises. It also contains the slides from our reference management training session.

Reference management

Managing what you find can be difficult, especially if you're working on a big piece of work that relies on a lot of references. Reference management software lets you keep track of what you've found: you can group and organise your references, keep notes, and store pdfs online for easy access. You can even automatically cite your references as you write up your work. 

How it works & what it does

Bibliographic data from your search results is passed to the reference manager, either by downloading it to your computer and then uploading it to the program, or by a 'direct' transfer within your browser.

Once you've collected some references, you can use the program to manage and organise what you've found, attach PDFs, and share references with colleagues.

You can also cite the references in your chosen citation style, either to copy and paste, or by directly connecting to the reference management program from a word processing application.

Why manage your references?

The important thing is to keep track of what you're reading, so that you can accurately cite references in your work (and don't have to spend hours hunting down the right information! Managing this information can be done in many different ways, but reference management software can make it easier, giving you a single location for storing and organising referencing information for material you read and/or find in searches.

However, you can do similar things by storing the information in a spreadsheet or document, or even in a well-organised notebook! You may decide that reference management software wastes your time rather than saving it - that's okay! Ensure that you have some kind of system for keeping track of what you read so that when you're writing up work you have the information you need at your fingertips.

Our Managing your reading Skills Guide offers advice on keeping track of what you read, managing reading on screens, and ensuring you have the reference information you need when you go to cite something in your work.

Referencing styles

In academic writing it is important to support your arguments with appropriate references.

You need to cite these in the correct referencing style to ensure the materials you are using can be clearly identified.

You should familiarise yourself with your department's chosen referencing style when doing academic writing. Whether you're writing the references out yourself or inserting them using reference management software, you need to know that they are following the correct conventions.

Obtaining the styles

The University of York specific styles can be added to your reference management application. The method for doing this differs across different tools, so check the practical guide's Cite page for how to do it in your chosen application.

For Mendeley, Paperpile, and Zotero, you should be able to search within an option to get additional styles for 'university of york' to see the available University styles, and then choose to install these as one of the options that appears in your referencing styles list.

For EndNote Desktop, you have to download the University styles and then add them to a Styles folder - see the practical guide's information on citing with EndNote for more details. For EndNote Online, as long as you've logged in with the University enhanced version as detailed on the IT Services page for EndNote Online, you should be able to add UoY styles to your favourites list.

Note: if you use Harvard, make sure you select 'University of York - Harvard' rather than 'Harvard(York)' (the latter is not from the University and is slighty different).

The CSL files below can be used with other applications if needed, and the .zip folder is specifically so you can download the styles for EndNote desktop.

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