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RefWorks Q&A

RefworksRefWorks, a Web-based product for managing citations and creating bibliographies, is now available to HSLS’ University of Pittsburgh and UPMC patrons. Look for the RefWorks link on the HSLS More Resources page www.hsls.pitt.edu/resources.

What’s the difference between RefWorks and EndNote?

Both programs allow users to build personal databases of references to articles, books, chapters, and other publications. With Microsoft Word, these references can be inserted into documents. Formatted bibliographies can be created using various output styles, including journal specific or standard styles such as MLA.

The main difference is ubiquity. Since RefWorks is a Web-based product, you can access it and your saved references from anywhere. EndNote, a desktop-based program, must be separately installed on each computer.

I’ve used EndNote for years. Should I switch to RefWorks? I’ve never used any bibliographic citation management software before. Which is better for me: RefWorks or EndNote?

Answers to these questions: “Not necessarily” and “It depends.” A long-time EndNote user with a well-developed routine for updating the program and saving references on multiple computers has no compelling reason to change. A researcher who has written many papers using EndNote or attached a large number of PDFs to EndNote records also has a long-term investment to consider.

RefWorks might be right for a student who wants to streamline term paper writing or who is starting research for a dissertation, assuming reliable Internet access. It is also a good choice for anyone needing an easy way to share references with colleagues.

Consider using both products, depending on the circumstances. No decision is irrevocable: references saved with one product can be easily converted to the other.

Can I use RefWorks to search databases directly for references, the way I can with EndNote?

With RefWorks, you can search free sites such as PubMed, PITTCat, and the catalogs of many other institutional libraries; however you cannot directly search subscription-based products such as Ovid and EBSCOhost databases. References found through searching subscription databases independently of Refworks, however, can easily be exported into the program. For products that do not support direct export, save your references as a file and import the saved file into RefWorks.

Can I use RefWorks off-campus?

With your individualized account, you can access RefWorks and your saved references from any location. Remember you must first log into either HSLS remote access www.hsls.pitt.edu/services/remote/ or the University Library System’s SSLVPN service https://sslvpn.pitt.edu/dana-na/auth/url_default/welcome.cgi. Note that Write-N-Cite, the RefWorks utility used to create and edit citations in Word, must be specially configured for remote access.

More information on using RefWorks is located at HSLS’ How Do I? page www.hsls.pitt.edu/lore/. Type “RefWorks” in the search box located at the top.

~ Patricia Weiss

Posted in the 2008 February 2008 Issue