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In the past I would mention citation managers later in the semester. Now I think we should introduce them early.
To define what a citation manager is, I’ll describe what it does. Specific details vary, but most citation managers work in four basic steps:
- Creating an account
- Populating the account with citations
- Organizing the citations into folders or collections
- Generating the bibliography
Having a system in place fosters academic integrity from the start. If we have our citations organized, we can more easily use them.
The citation managers also give us practice with the library databases. Exporting a citation from Academic Search Complete to RefWorks, for example, involves knowing at least the basics of ASC.
Most citation managers even allow us to rename folders and create subfolders. As our respective projects develop, so can our folders. This flexibility helps us see research as a recursive process.
Note that I have used “we/us” instead of “students” or “learners.” Novice researchers would obviously benefit from such tools. Experienced researchers can also start projects on a solid foundation.