Is reference manager software remotely relevant before students get to university?

So, Think 14 involves three tools; Zotero, Mendeley,  and citeulike.  It’s always a bit intimidating when I haven’t heard of ANY of the three tools in a CPD23 post!  Maybe that’s because I’ve always been in public and school libraries – this level of referencing definitely looks more like a university tool….

Much as I like the name Zotero, I’m skipping this as it’s Firefox only.  I’m also not going to look at citeulike – whilst this seems interesting , it looks to be more the sort of tool that would attract a research-confident student, rather than one to push at a student only beginning to develop independent research skills.  I therefore decided to have a look at Mendele.  I watched their short video and, whilst it’s a very clever tool, it seems to be very much orientated at journal references, rather than also including books, online resources, etc.  I think this makes its use too narrow – it might be a great tool for university students, but with our IGCSE/A Level students, I’d want to show them something simple that will help them to create citations for anything and everything they might use.  If I was working at a university library, I would certainly make it my business to know all about all the different offers that different online reference tools provide, but as things are, I think I’m going to save my brain space for other things.  Tonight, I most certainly do not want to be dreaming that I went to Mendeley!

What do you think?  Do you agree with me, that online reference/citation managers are only useful for university students, or do you think I should be promoting these to our IGCSE/A Level students?  If you think we should be promoting a tool like this in a school library, which would you recommend as the most appropriate for the needs of that age group?  Or what strategies would you recommend I use to improve the referencing/research skills of the students at my school?  Please comment 🙂



About angellibrarian

Children's/teen librarian working in an international school in Thailand.
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One Response to Is reference manager software remotely relevant before students get to university?

  1. adam.smith says:

    Complete agree that full-blown reference managers aren’t suitable below the college level. For Highschool level students, CiteUlike or easybib are probably the type of tools you’ll want to look at: no installation, not much of a learning curve, they provide basic citation formatting and collection of references.

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