References and Citations

Reference Management

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Referencing and Citation

Reference Management Software

Good referencing is an essential part of scholarship and information management and generally has three main functions:

• to acknowledge an intellectual debt

• to support specific facts or claims

• to enable the reader to find sources easily 

There are two main styles of referencing: author/date system (often referred to as Harvard) where the author's surname and year of publication is placed in the text with a list of references arranged alphabetically at the end of the work; the numbering system (often called Vancouver) whereby references are numbered in the text and the list of references is compiled at the end of the work with specific sequences for presentation of the elements in this style. Both systems allow some flexibility in how the in-text citation may appear and publishers will clearly specify the style references should appear in. Check the guidelines for contributors before any submission is made (usually on the inside cover or available online).

  • A good academic paper draws on and develops what has already been published in the literature. If you have read widely then ensure those references appear within your paper.
  • References are needed when you cite or quote from someone’s work and must appear in the body of the text and the reference list at the end.
  • Never assume that you will not need an item again once you have read it. You may need to verify a reference! So take care to note all the information about a particular reference for ease of re-tracing.
  • If you maintain a set of photocopied articles make a note about their location in your file. This saves time and effort looking for references again.
  • Never cite what you have not seen. If you come across an abstract of interest then obtain the original before adding it to your bibliography.
  • Avoid citing unpublished works as this makes tracing references difficult. Failure to locate references may lead to possible breach of Copyright.
  • Check your list of references for accuracy, currency and consistency before you submit an article for publication and ensure that your list fulfils the functions of referencing outlined above.
  • If you are on a course use any guidelines that have been recommended  – usually found in course handbooks.
  • Consider using appropriate reference management software which will help with this process.

 Adapted from UKEIG Factsheet compiled by: Tracy Kent, Learning and Teaching Assistant, University of Sheffield Feb 2014 

Referencing and Citation

 Library resources

The library has the following books available for loan on the topic of referencing/citations:

Cite them right: the essential referencing guide / Pears, Richard. 11th ed. 2019. Shelved at: L 125 PEA

The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism / Neville, Colin. 2nd ed. 2010. Shelved at: L 125 NEV

For handouts and guides on APA style 7th edition please visit

There is also an e-learning module available to staff on the ESR system called Publishing, Copyright and Citations. Click here to connect to the information skills training page.

If you are unsure how to reference different types of media the following online resources are helpful: Refzone  from Staffordshire University and Portsmouth University’s Referencing@Portsmouth

Reference Management Software

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.

These software packages normally consist of a database in which full bibliographic references can be entered, plus a system for generating selective lists of articles in the different formats required by publishers and scholarly journals. The software can usually be integrated with word processors so that a reference list in the appropriate format is produced automatically as an article is written, reducing the risk that a cited source is not included in the reference list. They will also have a facility for importing the details of publications from bibliographic databases.

(Adapted from Wikipedia

Although the Trust does not at present directly support the use of Reference Management software you may find the following guidance useful:-

Four of the most popular software applications are currently EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero and Mendeley.  Outlined below are some of the pros and cons of each along with links to tutorials and help-guides. When deciding which one to use consider your research habits, word processing, and collaboration/sharing needs.  

Note that all staff with links to Staffordshire University have a RefWorks account. Access on campus is automatic when you log onto a PC and then access the RefWorks site. If you use RefWorks off-campus you will need to enter the details of your Student or Staff University Username and Password (sometimes referred to as an Athens account).Click  to  Log in to RefWorks via Staffordshire University.


EndNote requires the purchase and installation of software on your PC although EndNote Basic is a free web-based version that limits the number of citations you can store, has a limited number of citation styles, and a limited number of databases that it's compatible with.

In the full version of EndNote features include:

  • Sophisticated, flexible tools for organizing references and PDFs and for creating bibliographies
  • The most comprehensive array of citation output styles
  • Linking EndNote records to PDFs and other types of documents saved on your hard drive
  • Download article PDFs automatically
  • Can add figures and tables to your EndNote library
  • Best option for large research projects
  • Can share your EndNote library with others


  • Expensive.
  • Hard to switch between multiple computers.

EndNote KnowledgebaseFAQs, and the Tutorials Library are the best places to start when you are learning EndNote or have problems.

Purchasers of EndNote Desktop also get access to the full EndNote Online (formerly EndNote Web).


RefWorks is cloud-based and allows for easy collaboration.

Format bibliographies in Word

  • Direct import available from most article databases
  • Import citations from RSS feeds
  • Full-text access to most articles is easy
  • Good for collaborative projects: share a citation database, or create a group logon
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Offers about 1000 output styles (EndNote offers more than 5000)
  • To use RefWorks, you first must register as a new user. Once you are registered, log in at any computer with Internet access.
  • Pop-ups must be allowed for RefWorks to function correctly. Make sure your browser allows pop-ups.

Need more help? See RefWorks help guide and tutorials


Zotero, an open source (free) program, was first developed as a Firefox extension, but now also has Chrome and Safari plug-ins, as well as a stand-alone application. Features include:

  • Can sync your Zotero database between computers and may share citations within a work group.
  • Manages citations found online through the browser
  • Automatically capture citation information from web pages
  • Import citations from other citation managers
  • Store PDFs, files, images, links, and whole web pages for easy retrieval
  • Zotero is bound to the installation of Firefox on your computer, but you can install it on a portable version of Firefox on a USB drive to allow for traveling with your Zotero library (or, use the standalone version)
  • Create bibliographies in Word and LibreOffice

Zotero has  relatively fewer citation output formats compared to RefWorks or EndNote.


  • Use on more than one computer requires syncing; not designed for use on public or shared computers. 

Need more help? See the Zotero support site.


Mendeley is a free citation manager and academic social network with web-based, desktop, and mobile versions. Works with Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, and BibTeX.

  • Organizes and manages the pdfs that are already on your computer
  • Introduces social networking tools to collaborate with fellow researchers, including sharing lists of references and collaborative tagging of documents
  • Add PDFs to your citation library
  • Annotate PDFs
  • Search within the text of all of your PDFs
  • Sync your library across multiple devices
  • With a free account you get 2GB of web space and can create 1 private group with up to 3 members. You can upgrade to a premium plan if you need more space or groups. 
  • Good way to capture citations from the PDFs on your computer and export them into EndNote‚Äč

Mendeley Overview: the basics of downloading and using Mendeley. And for more help, see their help guides.

As well as the publisher’s own guides and tutorials listed above, the following academic sites also have good help guides:

Oxford -

Berkeley -

Michigan -