Reference Management Software as digital libraries : a survey at the University of Torino


Publication date



Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Institutt for arkiv, bibliotek- og info.fag

Document type


Joint Master Degree in Digital Library Learning (DILL)


Reference Management Software are used by researchers in academics to manage the bibliographic citations they encounter in their research. With these tools, scholars keep track of the scientific literature they read, and to facilitate the editing of the scientific papers they write. Several different software packages exist, with sometimes different features and purposes. This study presents the results of a descriptive qualitative survey performed at the University of Torino, Italy. The aims of the survey were to observe how much these softwares are used by the scientific community, to see which softwares are most known and used, and to understand the reasons and the approaches behind their usage. An online questionnaire was sent to the professors and researchers belonging to the STM departments, and direct interviews were performed. The data collected were analysed through a constant comparative analysis, and the following categories were drawn: a basic practical approach to the instrument, the heavy impact of the time factor, the force of habit in scholars, economic issues, the importance of training and literacy, and the role that the library can have in this stage. Describing the present situation, the study gives final directions to the libraries to better perform effective tasks about the matter. The qualitative study presented here is the first descriptive survey of the actual distribution and usage of Reference Management Software in a large university. This picture can give an important glance to Reference Management Software as one of the elements in the academic digital libraries.


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