Reference Management Software

When you find useful journal articles within the Online Library databases you will need to make sure that you save these results.

Reference Management Software will help you to:

  • Export your references from the Online Library databases.
  • Organise your references into categories.
  • Manually enter bibliographic details from print resources.
  • Export your references into your completed essay in the correct citation style.


You can use Summon to find out how to correctly cite an article. In the Summon search results, you will see a bookmark icon to the right of the article title.

A search result with the Save this item icon highlighted

After you have saved an item, click on the bookmark icon in the top right corner of the page to see your saved items.

The bookmark icon in the top right corner

From the drop-down menu, select which citation format you are using. It will then tell you how to cite that article in that format.

The saved items page in Summon

Please note that this is a temporary folder, and it will empty when you close your browser. To save references permanently, you need to create a RefWorks account.


RefWorks is reference management software which University of London distance learning students are entitled free access to. To create a RefWorks account, click on the Menu button (the three horizontal lines) in the top right corner of Summon, then click RefWorks Log In.

The Summon menu

Then click No account? Sign up here

The RefWorks login page. The 'No account? Sign up here' button is near the bottom of the page.

Then enter your email address. If you are given the error 'Oh no your institution was not recognised', please open a different internet browser and try again. Make sure that you go to RefWorks from the Summon search results (you will not be able to create an account if you go directly to the RefWorks website).

How to use RefWorks

Once you have a RefWorks account, when you click on the 'Save this item' icon next to an item in the Summon search results, it will appear in RefWorks. But remember to check that you are logged into RefWorks before you do this, because otherwise the article will be saved in Summon's temporary folder.

Log into RefWorks here

Or if you click RefWorks Log In in Summon's menu, and enter your username and password, you will be taken back to the Summon search results. Then to see the references you've saved, click on the folder icon in the top right corner of the page and you will be taken to RefWorks.

You can also save items in RefWorks directly from databases. You will often see an 'Export' or 'Cite' button next to the text of an article. For details on how to do this in a specific database, take a look at the Quick Start Guide for that database.

RefWorks has lots of features to help you with your studies, including:

  • You can automatically generate your bibliography using RefWorks. Select the references you want to include, and then click Create Bibliography at the top of the page. You can choose which reference style it will use, such as Harvard or OSCOLA.
  • You can upload PDFs to RefWorks, so that you can keep the most useful articles in one place. In RefWorks, click the 'Add' button in the top left corner, or simply drag the file onto the RefWorks webpage. You have an unlimited amount of storage space. RefWorks' Creating References and Adding Documents video shows you how to do this.
  • You can annotate documents in RefWorks. Click on the reference and if you have uploaded the article you will see the Read button in the panel on the right. You can then select text and click on the Highlight or Comment buttons at the top.
  • You can insert references directly from RefWorks into your essay using a plugin for Microsoft Word. RefWorks' Writing with RefWorks video explains how to do this.
  • You can add references and full text to RefWorks from websites using the Save to RefWorks browser plugin. Install it by going to Tools in RefWorks.

Videos on the RefWorks YouTube channel show how you can use RefWorks in more detail.

Other Reference Management Software

There are other free reference management software packages which you may want to use to generate citations and bibliographies, organise your research, and collaborate with others.

Mendeley offers 1 GB free storage space for your research papers. Download Mendeley desktop version and the free iphone / ipad app and sync your research to access it on the move. Our Mendeley guide gives a brief overview of the features.

Zotero allows you to collect, organise, cite, and share your research sources within the free Firefox browser.

Now that you have organised your references, the next section will look at how to cite them in your work.