Thing 14: Referencing Tools

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Because I’m what you might politely term “at the far end” of my career, many of my cpd23 posts have had at least some historical element to them, and I can’t help myself here. I gave a wry smile when I read the introduction to the brief: “When I wrote my masters dissertation I typed out my bibliography reference by reference. I worked through the whole text too, slotting in the references, remembering where I’d referenced the same thing twice – the whole 15,000 words of it.” At the risk of sounding like a Monty Python sketch, luxury!

I can’t remember getting any sort of referencing guidance as an undergraduate in the 1970s – I’m not sure anyone cared how we did it, and, of course, everything was handwritten. When I did my MA in Librarianship (1979/80), our first task was to do a literature search for a member of academic staff in another department, in my case English Literature. I built this up on 5×3 cards, and can’t remember what happened after that: presumably, a poor secretary was suddenly inundated with a pile of bibliographies to type up. For my dissertation, I handed everything over to a friend who worked in an office and she typed it for me. That’s a snapshot of the references above – I have no recollection of doing them, but was pleased to see that they looked acceptable! However, I have written nothing that major since which means I have had no need, personally, for tools such as Zotero, Mendeley or CiteULike.

I had, of course, to have some knowledge of referencing tools to advise students at the University. Officially, they were directed to EndNote, sending records to which was an option on the library’s search screens. I’ll need to find out what the situation is at the new job I start on Monday so that I can support the students there. Can I envisage using any of these tools for my own tasks? I suppose I might change my mind, but I don’t think I’ll go back to studying and, although I enjoy writing, I can’t imagine wanting to do anything on that scale. I have just written a short piece on the history of Jordanhill Library, for example, and it had a handful of references, mainly archival, which I could easily manage by hand. However, it’s always useful to know these things are there for when you need them.

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Anabel Marsh

I'm a proud Glaswegian who loves to go gallivanting both at home and abroad. Join me in my travels, both historic and current. Credit where credit's due: photography mostly by my more talented other half, John.

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