Improving student referencing
Type of snapshot
Central services provision e.g. library, learning development, e-learning, ICT
What was the context for this snapshot?
To support students, within the Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, to reference material accurately and efficiently, we promoted the use of an online reference management system; EndNoteWeb. The University holds a cite licence for EndNote; which is a desktop reference management software, but if students wish to use EndNote on their own computers they have to buy their own copy of EndNote. EndNoteWeb can be used compatibly with EndNote but can be accessed from any machine and is free to use.
When revising our referencing guidelines for the Faculty, we recognised the benefit of promoting EndNoteWeb as a free and highly beneficial resource for our students and thus incorporated guidance regarding EndNoteWeb into our referencing handbook and started to run classes for students and staff regarding the use of EndNoteWeb.
What kind of learners were involved in accessing this provision or support?
We encourage second year students to start using EndNoteWeb but recognise that final year students are using it more as they see the benefit of managing the large number of references that they are researching and collecting for their final year dissertations. Postgraduate students also make good use of EndNoteWeb, particularly overseas students who may return home during vacation periods, yet can continue to access electronic resources and manage their resources via EndNoteWeb.
What skills or literacies were particularly being addressed?
Searching for, managing and citing research literature has been made easier for our students. Using EndNoteWeb has aided their understanding in searching for, and managing literature, as well enabling them to reference material efficiently and consistently. EndNoteWeb enables them to create bibliographies correctly and to understand the different styles of referencing and change styles automatically if required.
Who provided the support? How was support provided?
The use of EndNoteWeb was promoted by the Faculty Deputy Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching) (DAD (L&T)) and the Faculty Information Consultant (FIC). Demonstrations of EndNoteWeb were provided to staff at a Faculty conference by representatives from Adept Scientific who support EndNoteWeb in the UK. Guidelines for the use of EndNoteWeb were included in the Faculty referencing handbook which is available to all students within the Faculty. The FIC teaches students how to effectively search for research literature and then how to manage their literature within EndNoteWeb and how to cite references and automatically create bibliographies within their documents. Staff workshops have also been provided by the DAD(L&T) and the FIC.
Benefits, outcomes, and lessons learned
It does take a short while for students to get used to using EndNoteWeb, but those who persevere find it incredibly beneficial. They comment on how much time they save when writing their dissertation and how much easier it is to cite references and compile their bibliographies.
Students need support and guidance in how to import references into their EndNoteWeb account, but if this is included in their normal ‘information literacy’ taught sessions, then it shouldn’t be an additional burden for staff. Marking burdens can be reduced if students use EndNoteWeb, because referencing errors are much reduced and therefore not as much time needs to be spent correcting citations or bibliography listings.
Staff and students who use EndNoteWeb recognise the real benefits in using an online reference management tool.