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Find, access and use information effectively: a step-by-step guide: Reference management tools

Find, access and use information effectively: a step-by-step guide

What is reference management software and how can it help me to compile a bibliography?

Reference management software, is software for scholars and authors to use for recording and utilising bibliographic citations (references). Once a citation has been recorded, it can be used time and again in generating bibliographies, such as lists of references in scholarly books, articles and essays. As soon as you have more than a handful of references, it is important to have an effective filing system to manage your references. Establish this at the start of the research project and it will save a lot of time in the future.

There are a number of different products you may choose to use, see the comparison sheet by following this link. Stellenbosch University recommends the use of  Mendeley to all students and researchers who may use it free of charge. 

Mendeley @ SU

Mendeley @ SU

Mendeley is a reference management tool that enables you to manage citations and PDFs using a desktop client or through your account on Mendeley web. Mendeley also includes plug-ins for Word or OpenOffice, so you can easily create citations and/or bibliographies as you write. It also allows you to organise your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

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See how Mendeley compares to other reference management tools




A good understanding of the reference style you need to use for your assignment is essential before you start using referencing tools because the citation exported into Refworks is just as good or bad as the database or search engine it was exported from. You need to check the bibliography afterwards.

Training programme

The Library and Information Service offers a wide range of group training sessions with the main focus on enhancing the information literacy skills of all students at Stellenbosch University. Book a specific training session or consult the undergraduate or postgraduate training programme to see a list of all training sessions available for specific target groups.