Category Archives: Inductions

Reference Management Software for PGRs

Following on from the post on academic networks for PGRs, as part of this year’s PGR Induction, we held a short informal session (over tea, coffee and muffins) for part-time and distance PGRs. There were a couple of topics that came up as some students being interested in where they could get further information. One of these was reference management software… tools to help your inquisitive, but weary mind deal with the more mundane and tedious task of collecting and writing reference lists and bibliographies in whichever referencing style you are using.

A few suggestions below which you could explore:-

What Reference Management Software can do for you?

Whilst there are many different applications out there, they all offer similar functionality. In general, they allow you to:

  • Save bibliographic information (title, author, publisher, date etc.) of those sources you find via Google Scholar or academic databases into your account.
  • Organise saved references into folders, or attach files or notes for future retrieval.
  • Integration with word or other word processing packages to allow you to import in-text references and footnotes, and generate reference lists and bibliographies at the touch of a button.
  • Automatically format references to meet thousands of different referencing styles (eg APA 6th, MLA)


Endnote & Endnote Web


Endnote has been deployed to all NPCS machines across Durham University (access it from the Start menu via Programs >Bibliographic Software > Endnote > Endnote Program )… but if you’re not based at Durham University you can:

  1. purchase a discounted student licence from Endnote distributors by providing details of your student status (cost c.£80)
  2. Use the simplified version, Endnote Web, available via our library subscription to Web of Science.
    (Note: You’ll need to log in with your CIS username and password, and then upon accessing Endnote We, register a personal account with Web of Science)

We run sessions at Durham throughout the year, and as part of the Durham Part-time PGR summer-school in June, but you can also access and download an introductory and advanced guide to Endnote form the Durham CIS guides page.

If you need help, you can contact the CIS helpdesk, and frequently asked questions are often addressed via the Endnote@Durham blog maintained by Dr David Heading.



Zotero is freely available and user-friendly. Durham University also support Zotero with access to the desktop version via all  NPCS machines on campus, but you can also download a free version for use on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

If you can’t attend face-to-face training during the year, there is comprehensive online documentation and support available from the Zotero site.



Mendeley is a free reference management software platform, and an academic social network, now owned by the international publishing organisation Elsevier.

Whilst no training or direct support is offered by Durham University, you can download a desktop version of Medneley for Windows, Mac or Linux, or download an app for iPhone or iPad from the iTunes App Store.

Other applications

All three of the above applications are used by Durham staff and students, so ask colleagues what they are using and how they find it (and if they aren’t using them, ask them why not!)

There are other free and subscription services out there, including RefworksRefMan and REFme, so search around and let us know if you use anything else you would like to recommend.

Academic Networks for PGRs

As part of this year’s PGR Induction, we held a short informal session (over tea, coffee and muffins) for part-time and distance PGRs. There were a couple of topics that came up as some students being interested in where they could get further information. One of these was online academic networks and opportunities to meet similarly weary, but hopefully enthusiastic and like-minded souls.

So, a few suggestions below which you could explore:-

Twitter #phdchat

Twitter is an easy way to procrastinate and waste time on frivolities… or a great way to keep-up-to-date, meet new people and share and discuss ideas… or all of the above, depending upon your view.


#PhDchat started as a regular ‘first Wednesday of the month’ gathering of phd students on twitter, at 7.30pm, to discuss concerns, issues, ideas or current topics, often around a pre-arranged theme. People would log in to twitter, tweet and include the hashtag ‘PhDchat so that everyone following it coudl see, irrespective of if they already knew each other or had ‘followed’ each other on twitter.

These pre-arranged ‘meets’ still happen (although may not be as regular), but the hashtag is used much more widely now to share information for or between PhDstudents… you can get a taste at even if you don’t have a twitter account. Tweets can range from comments (from formal to humorous), questions, promoting events, funding or collaboration opportunities, or commonly used tools and resources.

You may find some of the archived information from PhDchat wiki of use:

ResearchGate,, LinkedIN

All of the above are online professional networking sites where you can sign up (for free), create an account and use either to just promote yourself and your work, or to engage in discussions or ask questions on topics to others in the network.

Why do researchers use ResearchGate?

Why do researchers use ResearchGate?

ResearchGate and Academia are both specifically linked at the research community, whereas LinkedIN is a wider network aimed at all professionals (and with the primary aim of finding, or being offered, employment opportunities).

I am more familiar with the first 2 networks, but all are used by academics and students at Durham, and there is no reason (other than your own valuable time) not to have a profile on all. You can list your research interests, experience, publications etc. and also interact by joining ‘groups’ on each network (both professional and interest based) to connect with others with similar interests, and ask (or answer) questions.


Another academic network, started in 2011 as ‘ResearchMatch’ for Warwick University staff and students, it is aimed at academic researchers internationally who are looking for collaboration opportunities.

Global reach of Piirus

Global reach of Piirus

You can create a profile and make it visible indicating your interests and where or how you might want to collaborate, or hide it when you aren’t looking for any immediate collaboration options.


JISCmail is an email list management service. It hosts thousands of email lists you can subscribe to, such as email lists for particular professional or regional organisations, or just email lists for those interested in particular subject areas.

You’ll need to register a password first: from the link above, choose the ‘Register Password’ option from the Quick Links menu on the left of the page and fill in your email address and chosen password. A confirmation email should immediately be sent to you. Open that email and click on the link within it. If the confirmation fails to arrive promptly, let JISCmail know at as they can confirm it for you. A request will expire if not confirmed within 48 hours.

An example of some of the types of list you can find can be seen at:


There are lots of other ways to network with others out there (just attending conferences in person and meeting people is one obvious one where you can actually meet people face-to-face – check out Conference Alerts for one way to keep up to date with conferences in your field of study.

If you know of any and want recommend them, post a comment to this post and if we don’t lose it to the spam filters we’ll make it visible for others to see.


I’m intending to run a session in December (December 8th) with David from the Careers Service which will act as an introduction to LinkedIN, Piirus and ResearchGate. Slides and handouts will be available online shortly after this session under the Library Resources tab.