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Organising research and references - Skills Guide: Home

Organising research and references

What is it?

As you start to write longer assignments and reports, you may need to think about how you organise your research and references to make it easier to see what you have read, referenced and where you need to do some further research. There are several different ways to do this. Some sites (e.g. EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero) enable you to manage your references, add annotations & PDFs and build and download a bibliography.  

Why do I need to learn it?

There are many reasons why it is important to manage your references and research:

  • To ensure that you have provided a reference for all the citations that you have used.
  • To inform readers of the scope and depth of your study.
  • To provide evidence and validation for your own argument.
  • To avoid plagiarism.
  • To save you time and avoid repetition of work.
  • To find and choose the best research.
  • To ensure that you don't lose any research. 

How do I do it?

You could use one of the reference management software tools (there are more details about these on the resources section) or a more manual method such as writing individual references on postcards or index cards, in a notebook, or using a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. 

Using an Excel spreadsheet is a good method of organising research as it enables you to see a clear snapshot of the extent of your research. The main limitation of Excel in comparison to using a Word document is that it is more difficult to clearly see and find individual quotes. Using both methods means that you can track what research you have done and find and use quotes easily. 

Resources and activities


The University supports EndNote and there is an introductory presentation about EndNote Web below which is a good starting point.

Reflecting on your Referencing

Use the task below to think about how you reference and what you may want to change. The information in this guide will help you to make those changes.

Other useful guides

You may find these other guides useful:

Reference Management Software