Sunday, November 4, 2012

Use this online tool to make research, writing easier

Emma Waters Summar Library offers an oft-overlooked resource provided for students and faculty that could revolutionize the way you do research, whether you're writing a term paper, working on a Capstone project for a graduate course or organizing data for writing your latest journal article.

That resource is RefWorks, an online tool that enables users to gather, organize, store and share research information.

RefWorks provides the following benefits:
  • It organizes a student's or faculty member's research, both citation information and sources saved in PDF format.
  • Once registered on campus, a user's account will remain active indefinitely, even once he leaves Union University.
  • It can create citations in the body of a work and for a bibliography.
  • It enables users to share resources.
Listen to why one of Union's reference librarians recommends using the program: "This way [students] are organizing everything into one folder, and this frees them up from worrying about the details so they can focus on finding good resources and writing well," said Melissa Moore, public services librarian and research coach.

Read on for tips on how to use this amazing resource.
  1. First create an account with a username and password of your choosing. If you are off campus, you may need to use the group code: RWUnionUni.
  2. To get started, first set the preferences. The most commonly used citation styles are MLA (7th ed.), APA (6th ed.), and Turabian (7th ed. with notes). Note: RefWorks provides two versions of Turabian.
  3. Once you log in, you can create folders based on what you are working on. Click "Organize and Share Folders" and click on the "New Folder" tab. Note: For instance, master's and doctoral students can create a folder for each chapter of their Capstone projects. In fact, it's best to do so on the front end to avoid forgetting which articles were saved for certain projects or papers.
  4. Add references one of two ways: 1) Under "References," click "Add New." Then choose a) what type of reference and b) which style is needed for the citations. This feature enables the user to get started filling out the citation information from a source he has in hand. 2) Bring citations in from a database search.
  5. To add citation information from a specific source found in a database, first pull up the journal article needed. Click on the link for the citation. Choose "Export" (or "Cite/Manage Citations"), then "Direct Export to RefWorks" and then "Save." The citation will show up in the "Last Imported" folder. Click the box and then click the folder with the dropdown arrow; then click the folder to which you want to add the citation.
  6. Once citation information has been exported to RefWorks from a database, the program has the capacity to create an in-text citation or citation for a Works Cited page. The user first chooses the output style (MLA, APA, etc.), then chooses the file type. The final step: Click "Create Bibliography." The references show up in alphabetical order.
  7. Share resources by clicking on "Organize and Share Folders." Then click the folder with the arrow on it.
Next post: Learn more about how RefWorks can do some of the heavy lifting for you.

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