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An introduction to software development
An introduction to software development

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8.1.1 Preparation

There are many tools available for creating and managing bibliographies. Indeed, you may already use a bibliographic database management system (BDMS) such as Zotero, EndNote, BibDesk or RefWorks. If you already use a BDMS then you are free to use it in this part of the course.

BDMSs are complex tools that can hold thousands of academic papers, white papers and many other information-resource items, keeping them for easy reference. As well as storing resources, some BDMSs allow an electronic version of an information resource to be kept alongside notes you have made about that resource. The resource and any associated notes are then ready for use when you need to cite the material. In some document preparation systems (e.g. Microsoft Word) this can be done automatically.

Even the simplest BDMS requires great flexibility and is a very complex piece of software. The learning curve can be quite steep. For this reason, if you don’t already use a BDMS we suggest that you create a simple word-processing document to store the details of the few papers you might find useful to go alongside this course - perhaps something from the references that interested you.

If you already use a BDMS, you can create a new database for this course. Alternatively, you could simply copy and paste the template below into any Word/text-processing package of your choice for each new information resource that you keep in your bibliography.







URL and last accessed:

Referenced by:



Activity 15

What do you think the fields in the template capture?


The template consists of a single table with the following fields (this structure is a subset of any commercial tool’s structure, although in such a tool there may be many other fields too):

  • CiteKey: a unique identifier (or primary key) for the entry
  • Title: the title of the work
  • Author(s): the author(s) of the work, presented if necessary as a list
  • Format: the type of resource, i.e. whether a journal, magazine, technical report, commercial white paper, web page, personal communication, etc.
  • Publisher: the publisher of the resource
  • Year: the year the resource was published or the year it was last checked
  • Pages: the page numbers, if applicable
  • URL and last accessed: the web location where the resource was found, and the date on which you last accessed it
  • Referenced by: which other item(s) in your BDMS (if any) suggested this information resource

  • Abstract: a copy of the abstract for the resource, should one exist
  • Notes: the notes that you have made on the resource.