BC Libraries Student News

RefWorks: Bibliographies Made Easy
By John Walsh

The sun’s coming up after a long night of research and a brief trip to your favorite off-campus spot. Somewhere around 8:45am the last sentence is spell checked and the paper, for better or worse, is finished with scarcely enough time to print it and get to class. Unfortunately you still need to finish your bibliography. You need RefWorks.

While the paper makes up the bulk of work for an assignment the bibliography isn’t quick and easy when you have to do it manually. MLA, APA, Turabian, each has its own special and unique set of rules; what to italicize, where to put the periods and what arcane order to list the author and publisher. Remembering all these rules is about as easy as reading quantum mechanics in Russian (if you’re a Russian physics major, please change that analogy to something you’re bad at).

Still it’s closer to 9am than 8am and your paper is due in minutes. Instead of frantically searching your room for your copy of Strunk and White, (look behind the refrigerator, that’s where I usually find mine), you can use RefWorks to format it into any citation style (MLA, APA, AMA, Turabian, Chicago, etc.) your professor asks for.

RefWorks is an online program that will import and format your citations for you and generate a bibliography any professor would be pleased to see as part of your paper. And yes, professors have a nasty habit of actually checking bibliographies to see if they’re done appropriately.

RefWorks is best used while you’re working on your paper, you can import the citations directly from the databases you used to gather information and save yourself a lot of time. Also, these citations are saved in your RefWorks account. Now RefWork’s citation filters are close to 100% accurate but always take a moment to look over your citations to make sure that there aren’t any errors. Setting up an account takes between 1 and 5 minutes and it will make doing citations dramatically easier.

And isn’t anything that gives you more time to spend “researching” at your favorite off-campus spot worth the effort? More information on RefWorks.

John Walsh is the Hult Librarian, Business Specialist and part of O'Neill Library Reference.